Monday, April 13, 2020

Schooling at Home - Help!!!

I wanted to take a few moments to talk to all of the parents out there in Benzie Central and beyond who are feeling scared / nervous / inadequate about being thrust into the role of being their child's primary teacher.  Even for those who may relish this new role and the many opportunities it brings, it can be downright intimidating.  I say this from my own perspective as a now mostly remote working from home parent with three kids (2nd, 6th, and 9th grades) now at home with me every day too!

First - a quick clarification.  I want to point out that what we are embarking on together is not really "homeschooling" in the traditional sense.  Yes - we're staying at home these days and we're doing schooling there.  But any parent who "homeschools" seriously outside of global pandemics will tell you that homeschooling doesn't only take place at home.  Indeed, those who choose to homeschool often rely on networks of other families, museums, field trips, libraries, churches, and many other places and communities outside of the home to participate in the experience.  "Homeschooling" ONLY at home is a different challenge all together, particularly during a global pandemic!

So whatever we decide to call this new endeavor (crisis schooling sounds a bit scary, non-traditional schooling perhaps not intense enough), suffice to say, it's a challenge, right?! 

So what do we need to do as parents to be successful and ensure we are doing right by our children?

I think it's first critical to allow ourselves to take a deep breath and realize that, as the old saying goes, "the kids are gonna be all right".  Kids are amazingly resilient.  And if you're feeling like it's not going well so far - I guarantee you that it's going better than you think...

Second, I'd suggest that we all recognize that it's okay that kids are going to have different routines, different expectations, and not keep the same sort of hours that they do while in school.  No adult would want to be in meetings online for 6 or 7 hours straight (I can say that from experience as I'm sure some of you can as well - we've been testing that theory a lot in our society lately!).  Indeed, breaking up schoolwork into smaller manageable chunks throughout the day (less for younger kids, a bit more for older ones) is a great and reasonable strategy.  Likewise, recognize that more time does not always equal more / better results.  Quality, focused time is more critical than quantity of time.

Finally, I would invite us all to recognize and celebrate the other learning and positive things that are happening outside of "traditional schoolwork".  There is huge intrinsic value in much of what's happening in homes across our country (and our world) right now.  There are lots more family meals being eaten together than is usual.  There are more opportunities for family discussion and focusing on a smaller group of people right in front of us.  Playing in the yard and building a blanket fort in the living room allow for creativity and expression.  Yes - even arguing with their siblings can be a learning opportunity - conflict resolution is a skill that needs to be practiced to be done well!

I don't mean to talk down or suggest that it's all roses and sunshine amidst this pandemic.  Indeed, I know many of us are undergoing all sorts of different stresses as we strive to figure out our way forward.  What I absolutely will suggest though is that our parents can and should cut themselves a little slack and not let "being your child's teacher" be another stress thrown on the pile of everything else we're dealing with.  Being their parent is enough - and spoiler alert - you've always been their first teacher anyways!  You've got this :).

As always, we're here to support you and your children as we figure out this new normal together.  One of the best things that you can do is to stay in contact with your child's teachers.  They are here to help and want to make sure to stay connected to ALL of their students! 

Thank you for all that you do, and we look very forward to having your kids back with us in the school building as soon as we can make it happen safely!





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