For those of us who haven’t made the optional choice to home school, we now find ourselves in charted waters as we enter this world for the first time. And if you are like me, you are also working from home during this time. How are we to balance both responsibilities? How are we to ensure our children, especially those who need modified assignments, who have IEPs and 504s in place to ensure even playing fields, have their unique needs met? This is a scary and unpredictable time as we begin to navigate this adventure together.
And that’s the main idea isn’t it? That we are in this thing together. If you never appreciated all your child’s teachers do for him or her everyday, you are about to right now. And if your child’s teachers weren’t the best, that’s okay too because now is your opportunity to discover your child’s greatest potential. The classroom, while doing it’s best to emulate what real world situations can look like, can be great for promoting student social interaction and adherence to rules and expectations, can also be quite limiting for students who learn things in their own ways. A child with ADHD may need to move around during lessons, getting his or her hands on different things that help them learn about the subject at hand. Another child might need frequent breaks when things get to be overwhelming for him or her. Yet another child might respond better to learning outdoors, getting a chance to use their knowledge in a more practical way. Some students take pride in getting to choose what they study that day instead of having a standardized curriculum laid out before them.
And now we are in control of how and what our children study. Just like that! Sure, we may have to adhere to some lessons our child’s teachers have prepared for them because as long as they are enrolled in school they need to be prepared to meet those standards the state has mandated. But being a home gives our children the freedom to meet those standards in their own unique way. These last two weeks were very challenging for our family. While I normally insist do something educational even on weekends and during breaks, I decided to relax those instructions for the “Spring Break” week they had before home instruction began. So much change had happened in that time and I wanted to kids to just have fun, to forget the world if but for a moment and just be kids. And while I don’t regret that choice, there were some consequences on our first day of homeschooling where there were tears and meltdowns by both parent and child. Simple short answer questions took hours to answer, and math was hardly completed. I found myself running up and down the stairs with my laptop to try to find a way to calm down my 8 year old while keeping the 5 year old entertained all while responding to emails and phone calls from my job. It was exhausting. And by day’s end, I was on one side of the computer emailing my child’s teacher that this was not going well at all. That I wasn’t sure if I could do it and begging for some sort of help. I was at my wits end… I was convinced we weren’t going to make it. And it was only day one.
But then something the next day hit me. I moved some things around in the kids schedule and I decided that if something wasn’t completed it wasn’t the end of the world. The entire point is to ensure they are learning. And here I had my chance to find fun and engaging ways to do just that. And so we got outside. We planted. We got into the kitchen. We cooked. We took the dog for walks. We observed nature. We got online. We played fun and engaging games. We dug out the board games. We played and learned about economics and money, we learned logistics and practiced our fine motor skills. We learned about choices and consequences and figured out our left from our right side without falling onto the floor. We took breaks and enjoyed some doodling during lunch time. We hung out with friends online. We breathed in. We breathed out. And at the end of every day, even if everything wasn’t turned in online to the teacher, I was satisfied that my children had learned something that day.
And isn’t that the point, parents? We want our children to enjoy learning, to learn for the sake of learning… not to get a grade or a reward. When we relax and let go what all the shoulds, that’s what can happen. There is not much that is in our control these days. Our kids were stripped from their classrooms so suddenly. The least we can do is allow them to have a voice in what they are getting to do everyday.
Truth is this isn’t going to be easy. It’s not supposed to be. There will be tears and meltdowns, frustrations will mount, and we will no doubt want to quit just about everyday. But we were made to do hard things, parents. We are being challenged in ways we couldn’t have even imagined. There are no books on how to do this thing the right way. But all we can do is do our best and be our best. This means to acknowledge that there will be hard days, that emotions make us human, and that some days will be lazy days. Our children are resilient yet they have experienced a loss too and we as their parents no matter what is going on need to acknowledge that and the grief that we are experiencing as well. Grace will take us a long way as long as we remember to use it. We will get through this…. we always do.
On to week 3.