I have talked to so many friends lately who are completely overwhelmed by the “homeschooling” they are being asked to do. I am overwhelmed by a lot of things these days. Finances, keeping my house in order, lack of schedule, and grocery shopping to name a few. But to be completely honest with you, “homeschooling” is not something I am losing sleep over. Let me tell you why.
When the announcement was made that instead of two weeks at home, our children were to stay home from school until the middle of May, yes, it was scary. As I mentioned in an earlier blog, I had prepared for a 5K, and was running at a 5K pace, but the finish line had been moved on me. Now I was expected to run a marathon, without proper training or advance notice. I had to slow down my pace in order to make it to the finish line in one piece.
And that is what we all have to do.
Learning FROM home is not homeschooling. It is not distance learning. It is not even remote learning. It is learning from the very environment our kids are immersed in all day long. Do you see the amazing opportunity you have been given? Do you see the opportunity to impart the greatest wisdom and love possible upon your kids?
Here are some opportunities you have now, with your kids home, that you would not otherwise be given if we were still moving at breakneck speed, toward the finish line of a 5K.
A Return to Basics
There are times I feel like I’ve truly grieved this whole experience. I’ve gone through the well known stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. But merely accepting that this is life as we know it for the present time doesn’t feel like enough. On her new podcast, “Unlocking Us,” Brene Brown interviewed author David Kessler about his addition of the sixth stage of grief, “meaning.” After the death of his son, he felt meaning must be added to the iconic five stages we all already know. Kessler talks about how he mourned the death of his son, went through the stages he knew so well, but when he got to acceptance, he thought, “This can’t be it.” He felt like acceptance wasn’t the end of his grief. Instead he turned to finding the meaning. “The idea of meaning did not take away my pain, but it gave me a cushion that I had not noticed before.” What if we found the meaning in this time home? Most of us are not trained professionals, equipped with the tools and the knowledge to “teach” our kids how to solve for x or how the digestive system works. Thankfully there are online resources for that. But what if the meaning we found was in returning to the basics? Learning to fold towels, clean a toilet, write a thank you note, cut a zucchini, scramble an egg, send an email, talk on the phone, do a load of laundry. There’s the meaning in this collective pause we have at home with our kids.
Many end of grade tests have been eliminated (at least for this school year). Grades are no longer being given the way they once were. Children are learning for the sake of learning. And while they may have assignments to complete for their teachers, they are more practical and relevant (most of the time). My niece scheduled a zoom call with me to learn about my job and how I give back to the community. Of course I was totally honored that out of all her extended family she picked me. 🙂 But seriously, what a cool assignment! My older boys have assignments to complete for each of their classes, and they are learning to manage their time on their own. We’ve had the nights where they forgot about deadlines and ended up working after dinner, but for the most part they are free to complete their assignments throughout the day. No longer herded from class to class, with a schedule driven by the bell, they have had to be resourceful, and rely on their own time management skills–something we’ve all learned is easier said than done. They are a work in progress, but what important work.
You know one of the great opportunities afforded teachers? At the end of the day, they get to send kids home. When those six hours of the school day are over, they say, “See ya tomorrow.” There is a space there that allows them to reset and recharge for the following day. Here is where I give major props to my homeschooling friends, because those that school their own kids do not have this space. But even they have read and studied and learned from other homeschooling moms before them. They prepared for the marathon, and they planned for it. Many of us still need to work while managing our kids’ learning at home. We cannot take off our work hats to don our teacher hats full time. And so I feel it is more important than ever before to be kind and compassionate with our kids. To foster the parent/child relationship like we never have. When we spend the day fighting with our kids over schoolwork, that frustration and resentment spills over into dinnertime, familytime, and bedtime. Teachers are working hard to give their students the support they need at home and many of them offer office hours for their students so they can ask questions or get clarification on assignments. So, let their teachers be the teachers. And you take care of the rest. Encourage good time management, feed them healthy brain-building foods, play games that encourage strategy, remind them to move their bodies, make a list of things they want to learn about, read to them, encourage reading about topics they’re interested in, make sure they get enough sleep. And talk to them. Engage your kids in conversation about what is going on in our world right now. Ask them about their fears and concerns. And if you have multiple children, fabricate a way to spend time with each kid, one on one. One of the highlights of my day is walking to the mailbox with Camden. When I get him by himself, that’s when he talks most candidly with me. We will likely not have this time of self-reflection and quiet again in our lifetime. It is crucial that we use this time not to tear down our relationships with our kids through fighting and bickering over assignments. We have an incredible opportunity to build up our relationships with our kids right now. It is up to us to use it creatively.
We now have more time than ever to get outside and walk, run, kick or throw a ball. Many of us are no longer commuting to work. We can use that time for yoga, stretching, or a walk in the neighborhood. The beautiful weather makes it a no brainer to be outside, soaking up a little vitamin D. And guess what I am hearing from many of my student clients? They’re feeling better than ever right now. Their hip flexors, backs, and necks feel less tight. One of my speed and agility clients reported feeling his fastest when he ran sprints the other day. Not sitting in a rigid chair for six hours a day is doing wonders for their bodies. I’m not sure I have ever appreciated the gift of exercise quite like I do right now. It feels so good to move my body, to get out of my own head, to feel my muscles straining and my heart pounding. If you need a little jumpstart to your exercise regimen, shoot me an email. We can work together to find The Thing That is Your Thing. Right now is the perfect time to find ways to move your body that you can return to day after day…when you need a break from the news, when you need to complete the stress response cycle, when you need to get away from the kids. 🙂 One of my greatest joys in life right now is getting to “see” my sister every other day when we do an online workout. It is time I look forward to, not just for the muscle burn but because it is good for the soul to see her face, check in with her, vent a little, and give each other hope. Moving your body, whatever that looks like for you right now, is an antidote. Choose it every day.
When you tell the story of the 2020 Coronavirus Pandemic to your grandkids one day, what parts of the story will be most prominent? I pray for me it will be the quality time spent with family–the games we played, the meals we enjoyed, the books we read, and the laughs we shared. What I don’t want to have a starring role is time spent in agony over school work. Let the teachers be teachers, and you be the compassionate, loving, engaged parent. That’s what your kids will remember.
***I’d like to leave you with a really cool way to document and remember this time with your kids. Click here for a link to my friend Katie’s COVID-19 Journal. I’d like to give away a copy of this journal at random. Drop a comment below or on my social media post and you’ll be entered to win a free journal.***