If you’re like me, you’re struggling to keep your cool right now. This is hard. Many of us have jobs and bills to pay, so we’re trying to keep up with work projects and deadlines all while juggling our kid’s education and making sure they don’t burn the house down while we’re on a conference call. I hear you. To make matters worse, we’ve been dropped into this mid-year, we’re using a curriculum we aren’t familiar with, and it’s not always accessible because the servers keep crashing. Welcome to COVID-Schooling.
Here are a few thoughts I’ve found comforting:
1. They’re only missing about 2 months of school.
You’ve probably seen fear-mongering articles and social media posts about how all our children are going to fall behind and we’ll have produced an entire generation of dunces because of the COVID-19 shutdown. No. That’s idiotic. It’s only 2 months of school, and between the work we’re doing now, and catch-up days next year, our kids are going to be just fine.
2. You’re not a walking ISD.
Normal teachers, professional educators, usually focus on one topic. It’s their specialty. It’s how much qualified, licensed professionals can handle. So, don’t feel bad if you’re struggling to juggle reading, writing, math, science, history, geography … all-the-things. Anyone who can confidentially manage two topics is unusual. Anyone who can manage three or more has a special gift from God.
People who homeschool are brave. People who COVID-School are intrepid. You’re not inadequate. You’re not failing. You’re a daring hero rising to the occasion for your kids in a unprecedented situation and you’re killing it. [Tweet This]
You know that saying, “A Jack of all trades is a master of none”? Well, this concept translates to teaching too. Figure out which topic you excel at (or can most easily manage), and teach that one thing well. All the other topics are side-dishes.
3. Lean into your skills.
We’ve all got different skills and capabilities. I’m a writer. I write things. I make up stories. I analyze the psychology of people and fictional characters. I like to obsess and puzzle over conundrums that don’t necessarily exist in the real world.
What does this mean? It means I will slay at teaching English. So, until school is back in session, I’m going to lean into that. Everything else … math, science, etc … is icing on the cake. Come August, my kids are going to be the nerdiest, most eloquent children in class. COVID-Schooling has to involve playing to our strengths.
Maybe you’re an accountant, and you can best serve your kids by focusing on math. Maybe you’re a fitness trainer, and your focus will be PE. Maybe you’re a designer, and you excel at arts and crafts. Maybe you’re a business manager, and you can teach your kids to organize and strategize. All of that is wonderful. Pour into your kids what you’re good at, and be proud of being you.
4. Aim for what’s practical.
As a writer, I can imagine a lot. This serves me well when coming up with a good plot. It makes homeschooling an overwhelming nightmare. Because I can imagine all the things we could be doing. All the ways we could set up the school room. All the projects we could undertake and trips we could go on. But none of that is practical right now.
Right now, I’m wrapping up an album project, writing a book, and hitting deadlines for three different publications. I have two choices: I can totally abandon my previous commitments and throw myself 100% into homeschooling, or, I can plan my kid’s schooling around my workload. COVID-Schooling has to be strategic.
What does that look like? Well, for one thing, it means I don’t have the mental capacity to tackle multiple topics on a daily basis. So, instead, I’m assigning one subject per day. For example, Monday is Math Day, Tuesday is Spelling Day, Wednesday is Reading Day, Thursday is Science Day, and Friday is Fun Day. Of course, they read a little every day, but Wednesday is when really focus on it and build our vocabulary. On Fun Day, they play educational video games or watch Brave Wilderness while I catch up on work.
This is what I can do. It’s what I can reasonably attempt to manage. And that’s fine. It’s far better to do what works and do it well than tackle too much and burn out. COVID-Schooling has to be about what works. [Tweet This]
5. Parenting anxiety and COVID-Schooling.
Around this time last year, I was going back and forth over whether to homeschool or public school. We settled on public school for many reasons, not the least of which was that we’re in a great ISD where many of the teachers are Christians. I never dreamed that in 7 months I’d be COVID-Schooling.
While I love and admire homeschooling, I also have very bad memories of being homeschooled myself. My mom was a great teacher until I turned about 11. After that, I was given a pile of books and expected to manage my own education. I still remember looking up the answers to math questions in the teacher’s guide, and working backwards to learn algebra on my own. It was horrible. I often spent 30 minutes on one problem. But, I worked hard, scored high on the SAT, and got myself into college.
Because of my background, I have very high standards for my parenting. Any lapse, any failure on my part to do all-the-things and measure up, fills me with guilt and dread that I’m a neglectful parent, just as my parents were. My greatest fear is letting my kids down. Letting my husband down. Reaching some point in my child’s development and suddenly realizing I’ve fallen short and failed them in some way I could not perceive.
No matter what your background is, as a parent, you likely have similar fears. We want our kids to excel. We want them to surpass us, achieve all their goals, and flourish. We don’t want our weaknesses or blind spots to hold them back.
The good news is, if you feel this way, you’re a good parent.
You love your children.
Forget for a moment what your local ISD expects. What the government expects. What the curriculum writers expect. What does God expect? [Tweet This]
Jesus says, “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore, do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” Matthew 6:33-34
More important than anything … than grades, test scores, curriculum, or our ability to measure up … is that we seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness. What does this mean? What is the kingdom of God? Well, your kids are part of it. Love them. Pray with them. Read the Bible to them. Sing hymns and songs with them. Teach them about Jesus Christ and his grace and salvation. And all-the-things will fall into place.
We will get through this shutdown. We will get through COVID-Schooling. And someday, when our kids are grown with children of their own, maybe we’ll reminisce with them about this time, “Remember back when we all stayed home together and had family time for hours …” [Tweet This]