These days, most of us are a bit scared and stressed out due to our new “normal.” However, as parents, we have no choice but to keep it all together for our family — which now means adding “teacher” to our never-ending list of roles.
One mom friend on Facebook posted a “corona haiku” that reads, “Homeschooling today. Oh heck! I don’t have a clue. I’m not a teacher!”Another mom, who is actually a teacher in our area, admits, “My own two are my most challenging pupils to date. This is hard work!”
In our case, our 4-year-old mostly plays with LEGOS and crafts all day, so there’s no pressure to really teach him much. I feel for my mom friends who actually have to teach their kids at home but aren’t the teacher types.
However, moms aren’t the only ones struggling — schools and teachers are also expected to deliver education to children as they normally would. Mom Anne says, “The schools are doing an admirable job providing learning for kids during this crazy and unprecedented time. I’m sure they’re under a lot of pressure from the state to deliver the same standards they would normally. However, that works just fine when the kids are at school and have the benefit of a dedicated, highly educated and experienced teacher to walk them through the lessons, keep them on track and ensure they submit assignments.”
She adds, “Flash forward to now, and you find instead kids having their stressed parents trying to be teachers, while also holding down their day jobs, doing all the regular household chores and often managing several kids at different grade levels. The overall effect is stress. Kids no longer love their school work, parents are tearing their hair out, and what is already an uncertain and stressful time is made significantly worse.”
Anne speaks for many parents schooling their kids during quarantine life. Now that we’re several weeks into this, some of us are getting the hang of it — but it’s still not an easy task. Here are ways many moms are coping with playing both teacher and parent at home:
Dawn Alcott, a content writer and founder of Geek Travel Guide, says, “Release your expectations. Some kids thrive on schedules, but others are going through their own struggles right now. It is not worth it for me to fight with my kids over school work.”
Mom Anne recommends you only do the essentials and then see what time you have left. She says, “For us, that means taking attendance online first thing in the morning so we don’t forget. I then sit with the kids and go through what’s been assigned, and we pick out what the essentials are and make a plan for the day. We write in break times, lunch, recess and exercise — if you don’t schedule them, they won’t happen.”
Do What You Can
“A key aspect of home schooling for many families is teaching children to work independently and setting expectations that they will stay on task. This can be a big challenge,” mom Kate adds. “You’re probably not going to get as much work done in a day as your average home-schooler, and your kids’ teachers probably know that. They’re dealing with a ton of routine disruptions, and a lot of parents still have to work. So, just do what you can, when you can. That’s really all anyone can ask right now.”
Mom Bridget suggests you allow grace and space to learn and adjust. She says, “Week 1, I was completely overwhelmed with tech challenges and getting the kids on a schedule. Week 2, we continued to spend most of our time adjusting, but made progress — and I was able to squeeze out 45 mins of work each day. Now, the kids are mostly self-directed and finishing in 2½ hours. I wrote for four hours today! Adaptation takes time and patience.”
Split the Day
Mom Cindy and her husband split the day based on their non-negotiable meetings and deadlines. “Then, we create a schedule based on subjects we feel comfortable teaching. We can’t always do the worksheets they send, but we are much more inclined towards applied learning anyway.” Here are her templates and examples of how their days sometimes work.
Think Differently and Go Against the Norm
Kate admits that she’s not doing anything to keep her daughter on top of her schoolwork. She says, “She does what she wants to do on the online learning platform and leaves what she doesn’t. I have made it very clear that, for our family, online learning is optional. I told the teacher this, too, and he said it was a good idea. So I am taking this opportunity for my daughter to choose what she wants to do, as there are so many learning opportunities that occur naturally in life.”
Mix it Up
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Anne looks to see where she can gain extra time to work on things her kids don’t normally do at school. She says, “For us, that means learning to sew (via making face masks for first responders), learning to code, practicing instruments and learning to type. We rotate that day to day and only do them if we have time.”
Get Outside and Exercise
Fresh air, exercise and breaks are what are truly keeps Anne and her family sane. She says, “We were all so concerned about keeping our kids off screens, and now, somehow, they’re mandated to be on them for seven hours a day. This doesn’t make sense! These kids are being forced to grow up fast to cope with this sudden change, but we need to step back and consider the long-term and the new routines we’re setting.”