by Priyanka Raha
Fair warning: This is not about sticking to a schedule, this is about having fun with it.
In my state of Washington, where I live now Gov. Inslee extended his stay-at-home order until May 4. As I discovered that news, the first thought that crossed my mind was how were my kids going to take that. They were already at a point where the April 27 date of getting back to school seemed so far away. They were eager to start visiting their friends and resume play dates. For me, it was more than that.
How am I going to keep supporting their education?
What about their ski lessons and aikido?
What about the social interaction, or the lack there-of?
I also worried about my sanity a bit, but that is a story for another time.
While I let that sink in, I also realized we may be inching towards what the state of California declared a couple of days ago, which is schools are closed for the rest of the current school year. I told myself, ‘Let’s just prepare for that’. This also means we all will be home-schooling our kids for many more days, more than what we had initially planned for.
Only just that this isn’t homeschooling. As a long time public school teacher points out, this is crisis schooling. Or call it emergency schooling, or schooling at home.
Now say it out loud – “I am emergency schooling.”
Let that resonate with you, because that is the truth.
Because homeschooling is a whole another deal. I know a lot of parents who have chosen to homeschool their children. The biggest difference between that and what we are doing is the mindset and preparedness. Parents who chose to homeschool are either trained teachers or go through months of planning and research to adopt a curriculum or define a schedule. All that happens in an ideal world.
The current situation is far from ideal. Children have zero face-to-face time with their peers. As families we are going through shock and grief over the current pandemic situation. Working parents have to manage a full work day schedule and most of the times are in and out of remote meetings multiple times during the day.
We are in this together – I mean us parents. So let’s have fun with it. I created a schedule, and I made it look fun.
Feel free to download it here.
Currently it hangs on my kitchen wall. More than sticking to it to the idea is to play around with it. The schedule helps me in two ways.
First, it helps me plan my day – time when I can schedule a few calls and time when I can focus on spending time with my boys. It helps my husband and I play tag with watching the kids and working. Second, believe it or not, the routine adds a bit of normalcy to our days and by our I mean the kids too. They have gotten in the habit of checking it out and deciding what they want to do. And for a day, if we want to throw it all out and just learn to bake or clean or walk around the neighborhood, we do that too. We even might reward ourselves by making it a pajama day.
Ultimately, it pays to remember that kids need love and need to be fed. Those things matter most. Education can happen in more than one form – you could be walking around the block and talking about different shapes of the leaves. It is easy to teach center of gravity with stacking cups and bowls, or learn about history by researching online. It helps to note that this is also the time when kids became expert at collaborating online or to mute and unmute deftly over a web call. Consider this, kids learnt to be bored and get creative about what to do when you have nothing to do.
These are all life skills. And you, my friend, my fellow parent, are teaching that. So until next time, pat your back and hang in there.