I went back into my classroom last week to check on some things and noticed the calendar we keep at the front of the class; it remains “frozen in time” on Thursday, March 12th. The day before the last day we were in attendance at school, meaning we are about 7 weeks into our online learning.
As a teacher, learning to facilitate online learning has been a challenge to say the least, but as a parent I am certain the role of helping your child/children learn online has been equally, if not more challenging.
The slogan that “we are all in this together” is not untrue in that we have all been isolating in an attempt to flatten the curve and slow the spread of Covid19, however we do not all have the same circumstances within that isolation. Some of you will have smaller homes, some will have yards, others not, some will be out of work and struggling to make ends meet and others will be trying to balance working from home on top of everything else. Our “normal” is anything but normal and I am certain that on occasion adding your child’s online school to the mix is less than appealing or even doable.
As a teacher who has been in the school system since 1990 and taught a variety of ages and grades, I would like to offer some encouragement for you.
- Be assured your child/children will learn despite you and your specific skills in math, or other subjects. Children are resilient and learn in different ways. Do your best to help them navigate whatever subject they are working on but if it isn’t working for either of you and the tension is rising, take a break, step back and do something different. Schooling is not worth causing strife or fights and a fresh look later might be just the thing you all need.
- Don’t try to get everything done at once, or in one sitting if it works better to work in 10 – 15 minute bites. Some days that may be all you are able to do. Be patient with yourself and your child. Remember, for primary students the recommended time per day on school work is a total of an hour, so four 15 minute work sessions is all that is needed and even that can be adjusted each day depending on how well it is going. Some days will be great and your child will be very engaged and able to do a bit more time, while other days may need to be shortened.
- Don’t forget that baking, playing games, planting a garden, planning a family activity or quietly reading are all good learning opportunities for your child. We often do these types of activities in the classroom but not as effectively and as “hands on” as they can be at home.
- Know that play is one of the best things your child can do under any circumstances. Children learn a great deal through play and it also allows them to process things that they are dealing with or going through. As Mr. Rogers said “Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood.” So allow yourself some time to breathe and enjoy when your children are playing, it is exactly what they, and likely you, need.
- We are in a very unusual time and though it can be difficult to suspend our “normal” expectations, these are not normal times, so don’t be afraid to be spontaneous. Seize the moment when you all need a break and go for a walk or bike ride. Explore your neighbourhood, play hopscotch, make a family video, start an ant or snail farm. Have fun in the midst and laugh.
Personally I have found these past 6-7 weeks challenging on many levels. There has been time for a different level of introspection and reflection and a renewed need for extending and receiving grace. Sometimes the most grace I need to have is with myself, to allow for the processing of all of the events and for my inability to always accomplish as I expect.
In the midst of all of it I am so very grateful that we serve a God who is beyond gracious and who is known for His faithfulness. Psalm 100:5 says, “For the Lord is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations.”
And Psalm 29:11 “The Lord gives strength to His people; the Lord blesses His people with peace.”
Be patient with yourself. Trust your instinct and allow grace to be your “go to response”.
Written by Joanne Macpherson