I have many concerns about the short, mid, and long term impact of lockdown. One of them is parents who may feel a sudden pressure to be ‘exceptional teachers’ to their children.
Here’s a useful take home message:
‘No one is judging you.’
Have you heard?
Teaching is really hard!
And guess what?
You might suck at it.
And guess what else?
No one expects you to be exceptional at home schooling. No one even expects you to enjoy it! To get through this, we must all be generous, forgiving, tolerant, patient, and kind to OURSELVES.
Good enough IS good enough.
Your ability (or lack thereof) to get your child to willingly sit down and work as if he or she were at school, says NOTHING about you as a parent or a person. So you can kick those ideas to the curb.
I have been inundated with invitations to ‘join in’ with and ‘share’ home schooling experiences on social media. I guessing I’m not the only one! My advice? Whilst being in contact with those in the same boat as you is sensible for your sense of connectedness, be wary of FB groups on homeschooling. If they make you feel you should be doing better, leave. If they make you feel your children should be doing better, leave. Attacks on your self-esteem are absolutely not welcome, however kind and well-meaning those disguises may appear.
This is a chance for your child to see the BEST of you. So what is YOUR best? Is it tickle wars? Nerf wars? Can you go nuts with glitter? Are you a grease monkey or a petrol head? Are you a maniac on the dance floor? Are you experimental in the kitchen?
What ever makes your heart sing, give it to your child in bucket loads.
Power Rangers might make you want to stick pins in your eyes. But if you watch it with your child, he/she has a subconscious experience of ‘togetherness’. And while being apart from their friends, teachers, clubs, and normal routine, what your child needs more than anything is a sense of togetherness. If you’re in the kitchen, what’s their alternative experience?
That’s not to say alone time isn’t important, it is. And it’s healthy too. But during the week from 9 in the morning til 3 in the afternoon, your child probably doesn’t spend more than a few minutes alone. Their entire time at school is based on togetherness and the sharing of experiences. This is what’s missing from their lives with the school closures. Not maths, not science, not spellings.
You don’t have to be doing the same thing as your child . But you can help them experience a sense togetherness by sharing the same space. However, I guarantee that if you’re playing with your phone or laptop, you won’t know how Shelby defeats Arkanon. And when your 5 year old is at school, what else do you think he talks about in the playground? Why else does his little group of friends spend hours choreographing fight scenes? By simply sharing a mind-numbingly awful part of THEIR world, (in this example an episode of Power Rangers) you can much more easily open the door to their inner world and share in something much bigger and much more significant.
So you see, home schooling isn’t about what you can ‘do’ for your child. It’s about how you can ‘be’.
Do chores, cook a meal, sort the washing, get the duster out, weed the garden, plant some seeds, reorganise they toy cupboard, sharpen all the nib-less pencils, throw out all the dried-out felt pens, but do it TOGETHER.
Because the only thing your child WANTS and NEEDS is the awesomeness of YOU! The biggest impact you can have on your child’s wellbeing during these times, is by making available to them the awesomeness of you.
Oh! That’s right…
Had you forgotten?
Written by children’s author and mental health professional, Sarah Baker. Thank you, Sarah, we think all parents need to hear this right now.