Have you found yourself already thinking, "Alexa, teach my children" or channeling your inner Ross Gellar saying, "I'm fine" when someone asks you how homeschooling is going so far?
I can assure you, mama, you are not alone.
In these unprecedented times, feeling overwhelmed is an understatement. And totally understandable. The world as we knew it has been completely flipped upside down. You now find yourself unable to go about your normal routine, potentially working from home full-time with your children as your new co-workers and on top of that—homeschooling too (for who knows how long).
You may be worrying like every other parent is likely worrying right now, "How will I make this all work?" or "How can I teach my children? I don't have a teaching degree!"
Well, I hope I can assure you—in any small way—that you can do this. Beyond a shadow of a doubt, you are already an incredible teacher. You've taught your children to walk, talk, feed/dress themselves and have helped them with their math homework (even though it is completely different from how you learned in school—"borrow," "regroup"... potato, potahto).
From me, a teacher and fellow mother, to you, I want to emphasize that your family's well-being comes first. Academics are secondary at this time.
You may be thinking, "Why would a teacher be telling me not to worry about school?!" Well, quite frankly, because this is unchartered territory. I NEVER learned—in college or throughout my nine years of teaching—how to teach during a pandemic.
We, as in teachers, parents, caregivers and students, are making history and setting the tone for these unsettling times.
I am not saying to completely disregard academics, but just be gentle with yourself and remember you're doing your best. These tips might help you and your kiddo both feel more confident on this new-to-both-of-you journey of "distance learning."
1. Provide a predictable routine.
One that you can adapt to your family's situation. Maybe mornings are too hectic because you have conference calls to make, so the afternoons would make more sense to work on academics. Be realistic, flexible—and most importantly, gentle with yourselves.
2. Monitor and keep track of expectations given by your child's teacher.
Maybe it is completely digital, maybe your child has packets to work on—sit with your child when you are able to have focused time together (even if it's five minutes or less!) and create a plan in the beginning of each week. Maybe it's Sunday afternoon, or maybe it's Monday morning after breakfast. Whatever works for you.
This is a great time to teach time management skills—utilize checklists, sticky notes, a notebook—you may have some trial and error figuring out what tools will work best for your kiddo. Don't be afraid to reach out to your child's teacher for help or clarification.
3. Give your child the opportunity to have a say in their learning.
This'll give your little students a sense of autonomy and ownership. For example, ask them which subject they would like to work on first—math or reading. Little do they know, they'll eventually have to complete both! Even small things like giving them a choice to use a pen instead of a pencil can make a BIG difference.
4. You have two new BFFs: Google and YouTube.
Don't know how to teach something specific or you want to give your children some extra practice? All you have to do is type the grade level, skill and "worksheet" in the Google search bar and you'll get links to many different website options—even free ones.
YouTube has a plethora of videos to utilize, although I do suggest screening them yourself first. You can also use Safeshare.tv or Viewpure.com to take away advertisements before and during the videos.
5. Use this time to focus on life skills.
Cursive writing, reading and following recipes, writing a letter, taking care of a plant, completing a research project on a topic of their choice, doing laundry, how to write a check—now is the time to teach or reinforce these life skills (all of which have some sort of academic tie-in).
All in all, just remember this won't last forever.
Despite what any meme says on social media, we are not going to evaluate your teaching abilities—promise. Be patient with your children, their teachers and most importantly, yourself.
Have you ever heard yourself saying (or maybe just thinking) , "If I only had the time…" or "They grow up so fast, I wish I could…"?
Well, now can be that time.
So let them sleep in, wear their PJs all day, make blanket forts in the living room—those are the things they will remember most vividly.
Remember to give yourself some grace, mama, you're doing the best you can.
And know that we miss your (our) kids, and we're cheering you all on!