One of Birch’s classmates parents sent out an email to all the first grade parents, which, like a global pandemic, is also unprecedented. I watched the flurry of responses about schedules and structured math and reading time come in. It seems like everyone has a very structured schedule! I noticed, seeing this after day 1 of quarantine where we spent the whole day outside making a fairy house and moving dirt around, I started to feel shame arise. Then I had some deeper thoughts and reflections, once I could release the shame and embrace my own choices.
I think some structured activities are helpful. I certainly want to maintain a consistent daily reading and writing practice. I believe these are the most important skills my son will want and need from school. And math, there are lots of practical and creative ways to throw that in too.
Many parents are stressed and afraid right now. The children are feeling this too. We are probably going to see some temper tantrums and meltdowns, schedule or not. They miss social connection and they do not like being isolated. They know that nothing like this has happened and that we do not know what is going to happen. They know many of us are stressed about money and sickness. They know we are afraid, whether we hide it or not.
Somehow we will get through this time, and once we do, they will go back to school and they all will ALL have missed some weeks of “regular schooling”. When they come back, and as the dust settles from this, they will not remember how great their parents were about doing math and reading exercises with them. They will remember whether they felt held and safe during this time. They will remember the creative things we did that were different from the things they normally get to do in school. Aside from being incredible stressful, this is an opportunity to share more time than we usually get with our kiddos.
I also think, we are parenting inside of a revolution. I hope life will be different after this. I hope we will have more reverence for nature and our sacred planet. Let us actually take the opportunity to slow down together. That is what we are being called to do. Let us teach children skills of LIFE, cooking, gardening, recognizing and using wild medicinal plants, go for walks everyday and see what is blossoming and turning green and how that changes each day in this season.
Some of the things we have done and enjoyed:
- FaceTime dates with little friends! Yup, screentime. My son was DELIGHTED to see one of his buddies. We are pack animals. It is unnatural to isolate. Extra screen time isn't ideal, but it is the pathway of connection we have right now.
- Gardening. Let's learn some practical skills, right?
- Inviting participation in activities of daily living. Like cooking and doing dishes. Yes, my 6.5 year old is cooking with me.
- Legos...engineering practice?!
- Anything creative, writing, drawing, painting
- Audiobooks for kids. Again, it's "media" and not "interactive", but the reality is, many of us either, in addition to homeschooling now, either need to work from home or have lost jobs and income and need to figure out how to support ourselves and our families right now.