May 5, 2020
Disillusioned Parent and a Cube of Sugar
Dear Disillusioned Parent,
It is okay to sit down and cry! You are not alone! You are far from being alone in this storm. In fact, many of us are right beside you and we are feeling the same things.
I see a lot of “inspirational” quotes and posts from friends and acquaintances about their quarantine time. Lots of pictures of home projects being completed, pictures of kids doing fun activities, and pictures and posts of new “hobbies” explored. It makes me feel inadequate as a parent. I am trying to juggle working from home full-time and “homeschool” my children with some kind of schedule.
Honesty, it makes me want to tear my hair out and cry at the same time. I have had the luxury of working remotely and not always needing to drive into work. However, work has become home with some very uncooperative “co-workers”. I can joke about it but I worry that my kids are not learning. They are difficult teenagers on a good day. Put them in quarantine and they are a bottled up mess of hormones that do not understand the words schedule, chore, or noon.
For many of us who are lucky enough to continue working, we are doing so from home while trying to “remote homeschool” our own. A couple of weeks ago, I was walking with a co-worker and we had just learned that “spring break” for our kiddos in traditional schools was now a permanent thing. We both were finishing week 2 of our kids at home; remote learning with districts still trying to find a feasible solution for their staff and students. She voiced the same frustration that I felt and have continued to hear from our parents and my friends. We are worried about the “learning gap” for our kids in traditional school formats, we worry about the social impact, and we worry about how this will affect our relationships with our children. You are not alone.
Homeschooling (remote learning) is a Cube of Sugar
While talking it out with my friend, I wanted to help ease her fears and frustrations the more I thought about it the more I realized that remote learning and independent learning are concentrated personalized learning. Independent learning like Method Schools and “remote learning” as deemed by the districts is a concentrated form of education, like a cube of sugar. Say what! There is nothing cute or sweet about chasing your child around to sit and finish their school work, yelling for the 5th time to your 17-year-old at 1 pm to get out of bed, or even asking them to dress in something other than pajamas. Your child sits in a classroom with 25-30 other students all day long sharing 1 teacher among them all. Think of that cube of sugar as their education and that classroom as a glass of water. It becomes diluted and your child only gets a small portion of diluted education. Not to say that their teacher or school is inefficient, but they are not getting a highly concentrated form of instruction.
Now, at home, your child is the only one in their “remote” classroom. Even with siblings, that cube of sugar becomes a concentrated form of learning. They can ask a question and get an answer from you or find it faster than in a traditional classroom. Instead of waiting on other students to finish the classwork, your student can move onto the next assignment. They can take a break, read a book or draw. They can learn in a quieter environment. Essentially, they need not keep a traditional classroom schedule working from 8 am to 230pm. Because they are not waiting on other students and do not have interruptions and can inquire, resolve, complete in a shorter time than if they were in a classroom. My boys are completing study packets for AP exams, helping one another despite grade level differences in math concepts, and meeting virtually with teachers all within 2 hrs.
Their learning time at home is an undiluted sugar cube. What does this mean for you? Stop worrying about trying to make them sit for 6 hours of scheduled learning time. They can accomplish their learning in a shorter time and it is just as effective if not more. Stop worrying about the “learning gap” that politicians keep talking about. Instead, focus on taking care of yourself. As long as our students are reading daily, working on a subject, and completing an assignment or two they are learning without the distraction of other students. Instead, they are watching us; learning how to handle stress, observing conflict, and resolving problems. Their home becomes a life classroom. We are modeling how to handle a crisis, show compassion, face adversity, and be courageous. These skills are just as important if not more so than core subjects.
Same Storm Different Boat
Many of our students and families here at Method Schools are facing challenges that have never been seen as are you. I am thankful that we continue to offer our students flexibility, stability, and connections to others during this unprecedented time. However, we are all not in the SAME boat but we are in the SAME storm. We all are juggling many challenges while weathering COVID-19. Social Media posts from friends and acquaintances showcasing family time, new hobbies, cleaning frenzies, and even program binging are but a snapshot of a moment. As my social media “friend” posts amazing pics of family projects; I remind myself as I juggle working full time and attempting to get 2 teenagers out of bed and completing something of value for the day; my boat differs from hers, but we are still in the same storm. My challenges are unique from hers and vice versa. Our struggles and challenges are different, but our worry is the same. So, I say, breathe and worry less about “homeschooling” and remember what you are providing your child with is a cube of sugar and a hug for tomorrow.