We are in a really strange time right now. I am writing this during the coronavirus outbreak in early 2020 (in case you’re visiting sometime in the future). We are stuck at home with long term school closures. Parents are trying to go to work (with child care centers closed), work from home (with kids also trying to learn), and they’re totally stressed.
There’s one interesting kind of comment I keep seeing “I can’t handle homeschooling.” or “I’m not a teacher!” or “What am I supposed to do.
One of the things that I am guessing fueled a bunch of this panic is the gap between the closures of schools and the start of “distance learning.” Somewhere along the lines people began thinking they would be expected to design and carry out complex schooling. So I’ve come up with a list of 5 pieces of good news for parents.
You don’t have to homeschool
Homeschool often involves a lot of parental involvement and instruction. Instead of homeschooling (where the parent is the teacher), distance learning involves a teacher who is providing instruction from elsewhere. Let the teacher, school, and district provide the instruction for your child. Even if they are technically schooling from home, let their teacher lead the way. Sure, help if needed (and in the early days working out the technology kinks will surely require more of our attention), but don’t assume that you’re going to be required to provide curriculum to your child. The teachers are working to figure that part out!
You can ask for help
You are allowed to ask for help. You are allowed not to know it all. If you can’t figure out how to do something, submit an assignment, access a website… ask the teacher. It has never been easier to send an e-mail to a teacher. The number of messages I’ve seen on social media from parents near and far complaining about teachers and the technology, I’m shocked that very few have reached out to ask. Just ask! It will do you, the teacher, and your child a favor!
Your child has a chance to rise to the occasion
Sometimes in their lives, our kids are offered opportunities to be empowered. They are offered an opportunity to figure things out. This sort of productive struggle can be super good for them! I bet some of your stress about your child logging in, completing assignments etc can be resolved with just giving them the task and having them work through it. Kids are amazing. They can accomplish great things. Instead of getting mad and stressed, notice the great things they are capable and just how strong they are!
Your child is allowed to be wrong (so back off a bit)
One of the major things I see parents worried about is that they don’t neccessarily know the content and the way the content is currently taught in schools (think Common Core). The great news is that your child’s teacher is still the teacher….and if your child doesn’t understand after the content is delivered, it’s ok for them to be wrong. If you think that your child gets every question correct at school… well this is a great reality check! The questions and assignments students struggle with are a great indicator to teachers about what they need to continue to teach, or maybe even approach a different way. Help if you can, but there is no reason for your child to be perfect during this time. Basically…. leave your kid alone and let them do their work when you can. That’s how their teachers will know what they have learned.
No one is shaking an iron fist.
Understand that a lot of the pressure both teachers and parents are putting on themselves is self imposed. I have received only supportive and understanding e-mails from teachers. We all are ready to give each other grace during this time. No one is standing by waiting for you to screw up as a parent. We’re all just doing our best. So take a deep breath and relax. Everything is going to be just fine!
And to wrap things up, listen, I know this sucks and this is a pain. It’s not the way we all want things to be. We want normal. We want our kids to be able to play with one another at the playground, and sit at morning meeting with their teachers… but here we are in this reality, so let’s just go with it. Have an extra glass of wine, or go for a jog. Know that this time is stressful and it’s ok, but don’t let this school thing be the bane of your existence when it doesn’t have to be.