As we embark on a new school year that is unlike any we’re ever attempted before, I want to assure you that your kids are alright. Whether you are homeschooling, virtual learning, sending your kids to in-person classes, or any combination of those and other options, you’re doing your best. That is enough.
We are beginning our ninth year of homeschooling and our first year with all four kids doing formal school. While working full-time, I’ll also be teaching kindergarten, third grade, sixth grade, and eighth grade without the normal break I’ve gotten so used to through our in-person class days.
After my initial freak out, I took a breath and reminded myself: the kids are alright.
First of all, this is temporary (we hope!). You are not committing to homeschooling/virtual schooling/or in-person schooling during a pandemic forever. It is for a season. If you just remind yourself that it’s a season, just like parenting newborns and toddlers and teenagers is only a season, it’s a little easier to bear. This is not the rest of our lives. It’s just for now. You can do this for a time.
Second, kids are amazingly resilient. When I look back at the many bumps in the road over our homeschooling journey so far, I realize that the times I thought were going to absolutely wreck us, didn’t. When we had to change math curriculum twice in the same year and finally just gave up and decided to try again the next year, I just knew we were doomed to a life without math. Shockingly, when my oldest was ready, he plowed through two grade levels of math in one year. When we moved halfway through a school year with a newborn, a three-year-old, a first grader, and a third grader and just did the minimum for the entire spring semester, we hit the next year running and it was like we never missed a step. This semester or even this whole year will not completely derail your child’s education. You are trying, and that is enough.
Finally, your kids are learning things right now that they may never have learned otherwise. They are learning about infectious disease, loving and protecting the community, and how to direct their own education. They are learning how you deal with a crisis. They are learning how to juggle work, play, meals, and family time. They are learning time management.
What I want you to do during the next weeks and months is to focus on the big picture. It is not about each individual class, lesson, or assignment; it is about education being a piece of our lives. Build relationships. Don’t tell your child’s teacher I said this, but there are more important things than diagramming sentences. Take that English assignment and make it part of the bigger picture of life: laugh over it, make it a bonding time, or use it as an opportunity for self-led-learning so you can answer that work email. The lesson is in the learning, not necessarily what is learned.