We are all doing the right thing, by not catching or spreading a virus which puts our most susceptible at risk. We are all working together to do something BIG. Thank you to all of you who are taking on this bizarre new normal. My family appreciates you.
“I imagine all the closures and cancellations
give people a sense of ominousness, But it’s
really an amazing act of social solidarity:
We’re sacrificing, so we can give nurses,
doctors and hospitals a fighting chance.” –@mattdpearce
During this time of uncertainty, choose to thrive. Take courage to follow a path – which may not be convenient – that brings your family to a new level. Find gifts in this unwanted circumstance.
When schools are cancelled, and getting your kids off to school each day WAS your normal, a new feeling of disconcert pushes its way to the forefront. This can not be easy. The decision to homeschool takes research, prodigious planning and an ardent commitment. Having this new normal thrust upon a home unprepared, is something altogether different.
Homeschoolers have an easier transition to home-bound life, for obvious reasons. We have our students, books, online courses and schedules in place. Little changes for us, save for extra hand-washing and the mournful loss of outside life, friends and team sports. Easier, yes, but easy, no. The past weeks have been fragmented, weighted for everyone, though we are adjusting and it is getting better. We switched to ZOOM.us for piano lessons, art lessons are now at home, and PE means video workouts and driveway basketball. Our other courses are unchanged and progressing as normal.
All you incredible moms out there, finding yourselves in a new place with your school-aged kid(s), do not despair. There lies a wealth of ideas, inspiration and advice available for you from the thousands of homeschool moms who write blogs or keep websites (see list below). You can tap into some great energy with them and hopefully will find a nugget or two of advice that will help pass these next few weeks for you.
At their core, home-schools are unique. And without question, “Homeschooling” is not the same as “Distance Learning.” So you can see how you might receive a plethora of “homeschool” information and still not know exactly what to do. As you research, take notes and only apply to your home what works for you.
My simple advice?
Set up a loose (certainly not rigid) daily schedule including a time-frame compartmentalizing school and free time. Make clear there is no school on weekends, and no homework (yessss!). Get out that stack of boardgames you never play and sign up for a few educational internet services to supplement (see list below). On stubborn days, I’m a big fan of the if-then clause… “If you finish your schoolwork/practice piano/read, then you can play video games/bake brownies/play basketball.” etc. Strategically, there is value on both sides of the if/then, which is my sneaky-mom-secret to keeping kids busy with healthy free-time choices.
Create a simple check sheet by listing required schoolwork and let your student check off what they worked on each day. A check-list can be extremely helpful in providing daily structure, and will give your student a sense of accomplishment. It might also be something you can pass on to your child’s teacher at the end of their distance learning time, to show what they have been doing – I am guessing he/she might appreciate that.
Students who thrive on daily accomplishment and are used to a busy schedule, will find comfort in schedule and structure at home. While there is value in keeping distance learning loose, do not make the mistake of rewarding their hard work ethic with lassez-faire expectations at home. Instead, honor the integrity that has governed your child’s life for all these years. Educational devotion is a fine quality that has been baked in (presumably by you) and should not be dismissed as an outside (brick and mortar school) value system, but a value system you honor at home, too.
We are in uncharted territory, full stop. While we may be in a period of adjustment, there is also an opportunity here to build something beautiful in our relationships. Nothing is more important than our relationship with our babies, toddlers, kiddos and teens. At home we are in a unique position to support learning while also paying attention to our kids’ social and emotional well-being. Continue to build on that foundation of trust and honest communication with your home-bound kids; Support them. This act will be a blessing to you and your family when the curtain is lifted and we all go back to our normal, busy lives. By listening and caring, you will have built something together that is important and lasting.
While I advocate for keeping a schedule and value the structure of school-at-home, I also believe, if whatever school-related demands you make of your kids during this time is causing tears or anger, then stop. It isn’t worth it. Do not force any learning at home that causes a strain in your relationship with your kids, because that is counter-productive to your long-term bond. Be flexible…
Instead, talk. Tell your kids stories of when they were born or stories of your childhood. Tell them what you love about them and make plans for the future. Discuss dreams and goals and write them down; make a long term action plan. Get out those old photo albums that no-one looks at anymore and browse together. Create new family memories and enjoy your kids!
I hope you will please reach out, if I can help in any way to make your “distance learning” experience a good one. I appreciate and understand how hard this transition must be for many and am happy to make myself available to family and friends. And friends of friends. And friends of their friends.
These weeks or months of (hopefully) healthy quarantine will be over in a flash and you will forever remember the time when your normal family order went out the window. You don’t need to be more than you are in this moment, but in your new world called “distance learning”, do make the choice to THRIVE.
Here are some Homeschool Blogs I subscribe to and love. Please visit them often and know these are experienced homeschool moms who have a lot to offer in terms of helping you figure out your new, albeit temporary, path:
Below are a few supplemental learning websites, if you want to add some interesting alternatives to your days:
@mattdpearce quote found on twitter