Your Kids Are Home For An Extended Time – Now What?
Last week when schools shut down, it was a big surprise. As soon as this happened parents started wondering what they were going to do about making sure their students continue to learn. I know school districts across the country are working hard to figure out what things are going to look like going forward. There is a lot of hard work being done.
An interesting thing I noticed is that as soon as the schools closed, I started seeing posted schedules on Facebook showing what a typical day should look like for kids. These are pretty tight schedules with things like reading, pe, math, science, etc. There are some good ideas there and if you are able to follow something like this and it works well for you and your kids, that’s fantastic. This post is not for you.
This post is for those that might be struggling more with how to work with their kids during this time.
If you are looking at these kinds of schedules and feeling overwhelmed, I wanted to tell you that is ok. This type of program might not be the best thing for you or your kids. With that in mind, I want to let you in on a little secret that only those of us in the education world know. Not all students learn the same way! Shocking I know!
As I thought about all of you that might be trying to figure out what activities to do with your kids each day, there are a couple of important things I hope you will consider. I think they will help you through this time.
Social emotional learning and regulation has to come before academics.
We are learning a lot about social emotional learning in schools. The basic idea is that if a student is struggling with anxiety, fear, or other big emotions, it becomes really hard to care about things like reading and math. It is so important to take the time to help your kids navigate their emotions with everything going on in the world.
Think about the last time you had strong emotions about something. What did you do to get calm? Exercise? Take a hot bath? Do some art? Read your Bible and Pray? We all regulate our emotions in different ways. At my school we have a wellness room where kids can regulate their emotions in ways that make sense to them. Some of them jump on the trampoline. Some draw. Some play a game. Some read. Some paint. The way we all regulate our emotions is unique to us.
It is time well spent to find out what your child’s stress level is and teach them skills to navigate strong emotions. If you think about it this is a skill they will use their whole life. Take the time to talk to your kids about what calms them when they are stressed. Then do some of those things. This should be part of any schedule you set forth for kids.
I’ll take this one step further. Parents, you need to find a way to do some of these things for yourself. When you are on a plane and they do the safety talk, one of the things they tell you is to put your own oxygen mask on before you put on your childs.
Take some time for you in the ways that you can. If your kids watch an hour of cartoons while you do something to help you regulate your emotions, that is time well spent. It will make your interactions with your kids so much better throughout the day.
Learning Happens in Different Ways:
Remember that learning happens in a lot of different ways – In our age of Standardized Testing, too many times we think of learning as a book and a worksheet. Sometimes we have moved the worksheet online to a scripted computer program. Learning in the real world looks different than this.
At my house this week we’ve done a little “traditional” learning. My kids do some reading in Spanish each day. (They are in a dual-language program and I don’t want them to lose that skill.) They have complete some math work on an online program each day.
In addition they have practiced some piano. They have colored. They designed a set of train tracks that they can use to deliver snacks to each other. They learned how to use a compass and think about pacing while geocaching. They watched documentaries on the Bermuda Triangle and the Dead Sea Scrolls. Yesterday Kelly taught them how to field baseballs and catch a pop fly. We watched a Narnia Story Hour and Bible Study. We’ve spent time following up with discussions on spiritual gifts. Our kids are learning a lot!
Here is where I would suggest you start: Think about your kids. What makes their hearts come alive? Start there and see where it takes you. I’ll bet they will learn more than you ever thought possible.
I work with amazing teachers at my school. In addition, my kids have had awesome teachers at their school. Do you know what the best teachers do? They differentiate instruction. That means they look at the student and create a learning experience that is tailored to their needs.
Parents, I am giving you that permission. Learning can be wonky, and messy at times, but it is always unique to the student. There is no shame in not following a certain schedule. Teach your kids to bake, or ride a bike, or build something new. Base it off of the interests of your kids. This is admirable and what the best teachers in our school districts do.Reed Langdon
And if right now, the emotions of the crisis are just too big, rest in knowing it is ok to cuddle up with your kid under a blanket and watch a movie until emotions are more regulated.
Parents, I believe in you. I know this season is filled with adversity, yet as a number 7 on the Enneagram Test, I believe that there are opportunities everywhere. Even though all of this is unexpected, What an amazing opportunity we have to learn together with our kids. You’ve got this. If I can help in any way, feel free to let me know.