As the coronavirus continues to reap havoc around the world, and more and more schools are closing for undetermined amounts of time, it has left parents anxious about the long days with their kids. It can be overwhelming. For those of us who chose homeschooling, we had time to plan and research and prepare. But, this has quickly been put in your laps. It wasn’t your desire or plan yet you know it is what it is. So, in the midst of all the unknowns about jobs, finances, the health and safety of loved ones, and childcare, it is understandable to be stressed about taking on the task of also continuing your child’s education.
My first thought is that this is also a huge adjustment for all the kids and students as well. They feel the anxious, fearful, angry, and depressed responses to this crisis. They have lost access to much of the structure of their lives. Just as you are not used to being with them 24/7, they are equally used to being away for 6-8 hours of their day. Friends aren’t surrounding them. Schedules are drastically different if they have any at all. Excitement over spring field trips, classroom projects, and after school activities have disappeared and much of it may not make sense to them at all.
What do you need most for each other right now? Grace. You are figuring it out right alongside them. Grace for grumpy attitudes. Grace for yourself. Grace upon grace.
When I first took my kids out of public school, my son had been in school for three years. He was used to the structure of school. Home didn’t feel like school. It wasn’t, and we shouldn’t try to make it the same. The shift has to happen in how we talk about education and learning. Because school is a place where these things happen, but it is not the only place. With or without a building full of desks, bulletin boards, and people, learning and growth can take place. While kids see teachers as the facilitators of learning, they don’t always view their parents in this light. I think this has always been one of the sad realities for me of the chasm between school and home. Homework might be done at home but most kids don’t view that as anything but busy work. And parents don’t know what level their kids are at or how to do much of the homework, because they aren’t seeing the lessons. All this causes friction when then a parent tries to assert the teacher role in their lives; to create a new schedule and structure is hard.
As we don’t know how long kids will be out of school, it makes it tricky to know exactly how to proceed. Add to that the fact that some schools are requiring certain things be done while others are just calling it good, a parent and child can feel anxious about falling behind or lacking in direction. So, I would again call for grace. Give yourself grace as you try to adjust and step into a new role. Give grace to your kids as they adjust to a whole new way of living for the time being. And pray and trust God for the outcome. Your kids will be fine. They won’t be ruined. The fact that you care enough to be asking for help and suggestions means that you care. A parent that cares is the best advocate for their child.
Monday morning is coming. If the thought of it fills you with dread, imagine what your kids are feeling. Days don’t need to be planned and scheduled for every minute, but you do need a plan. You need to create something of purpose and hope within the walls of your home. Sitting in front of screens for weeks on end will produce cranky, lethargic people. While there is nothing wrong with resting and enjoying these things, people need to have a reason to get up; a goal to set; future plans to look forward to; a sense of structure to ground them. Fill your home with life and music. Read together. Dream together. Ask about their interests and passions and help them learn about it. Learn something right alongside them. Kids love when adults engage with them! Let them remember this time as fondly as possible.
And be slow and gracious as you wade through these waters. Let home be home, and let home be a place of endless curiosity and learning. But realize that it doesn’t happen overnight and change takes time. Your kids will remember this time. Wouldn’t you like it to be a positive instead of negative memory? What can you do to set the tone? Once you work this out, the academics are much easier to implement. It will be ok! School and home can converge in a beautiful way. I am praying for all of you and will be posting more ideas in the coming days. But, I felt like some of you might need this post. Hope it encourages you.