You have a Zoom meeting in 15 minutes. Your partner is finishing up a report in your makeshift home office. Your youngest is having a meltdown because she doesn’t understand her science worksheet. Your oldest is cranky because your youngest is yelling. And honestly? You feel like yelling too.
This is a common scene in the era of Covid—19 lockdown. Everything feels impossible. While we don’t have a magic fix, we can take a little bit of the pressure off on the teaching front.
Maintaining some semblance of normalcy with your child’s education is important but it doesn’t mean you have to acquire a PhD in teaching overnight.
We figure now is a good time to help with adjusting expectations. Here are just a few of the myths about supporting your children’s learning during school closures.
Myth #1: You need to become a professional teacher overnight.
Even if this was possible, where on earth would you find the time? It’s an impossible ask and luckily it’s not necessary.
Your child still has a teacher, and they’ll be doing their best to support your child’s learning. Think of your role as that of an aide. You’re there to keep your kids on track where possible. If you can, ask them questions about what they’re doing and gently nudge them in the right direction when they seem to be veering off the lesson plan.
You don’t have to relearn 5th grade mathematics overnight or break your back trying to design a comprehensive lesson plan. Be their learning cheerleader, not the coach.
Myth #2: You are now a full—time homeschooler.
You’re a parent supporting your kids learning at home, not a full—time homeschooler.
Homeschoolers are parents who formally teach the curriculum content to their children in the absence of a mainstream school or classroom. Your child still goes to school. The teacher handles the curriculum.
You can support your child by chatting about what they’ve learned, but you aren’t expected to determine the course of their learning by yourself.
Myth #3: You need to drop everything and run a 6 hour school day at home.
Are you currently trying to imitate a full school day in your house while also working from home, being a parent and dealing with a global pandemic?
If you answered yes, please go pour yourself a glass of wine and read the next couple of paragraphs a few times.
You’ve got your own stuff to deal with. It’s totally unrealistic to expect your children to sit at a table and work independently for hours. It’s insane to think that you can replicate a structured school day while also doing your own work.
Lower those expectations. You don’t have to choose between your kids running wild all day and a quiet, learning-filled house. There is a middle—ground here.
Create a routine that suits your family’s natural rhythms. Work around pre-existing commitments. This will mean some days aren’t as full of learning as others – that’s fine! Sustainability is everything in this situation.
Myth #4: Learning at home is inherently less effective than at school
Learning at home can be enriching for your kids while still being practical. There are a handful of benefits to home learning.
You might have heard of the expression ‘lifelong learning.’ It’s the idea that learning shouldn’t exist in a vacuum. School isn’t the only place to get an education, learning can take place outside of the classroom.
Distance education, by its very nature, integrates school and home life, exposing students to the real possibility of learning independently outside of a structured context. Home is no longer a place to simply crash out and watch YouTube videos after school – it’s a learning environment.
Learning at home can also encourage students to take ownership of their learning. While there are plenty of potential distractions, education in the home also poses a golden opportunity for students to develop a more mature and responsible outlook on their own education.
Without you hovering over their shoulders, the onus is on students to develop some self—discipline.
Myth #5: You don’t have the skills needed to actively teach your child.
As a parent, you know your child better than anyone. Use this knowledge to coordinate simple yet meaningful home learning experiences
Not all learning has to be tied to assessments and curricula. Any useful learning that keeps your child engaged is worth doing – even if it’s just building a fort or drawing a picture.
Don’t stress about creating meticulous assessment tasks aligned with a curriculum — your child’s teacher will cover those areas. Instead, keep the focus on fun and engagement. You might find that your child embraces learning in a way that would never have been possible within the confines of the classroom.
Bottom line: You got this.
We know everything feels impossible right now but we’ll get through it.
Be kind to yourself. Be kind to your kids. Everything else will fall into place — we promise.