On March 12th the world was turned upside down. In a matter of one day, we all went from a life that we knew and that we had, more or less figured out, to something that looked vaguely familiar yet totally new and overwhelming. As school districts shut down mothers all over found themselves in the thick of homeschooling without any preparation or concern for what was going on in their personal life. Five days later many of us started our day with the earth literally shaking beneath our feet. New fears emerged and anxieties were heightened to the extreme.
Over the past three weeks, some have lost jobs, some have more work than they can handle, and some are working in a very different manner than they have ever done before. School children are either overwhelmed with figuring out their new schedule or not doing anything at all, siblings are getting really sick of seeing only each other, and caring mothers everywhere are crying themselves to sleep at night because they don’t know how long they can keep this up.
I’ve found myself in a very different situation. We have homeschooled for five years now and my hubby was already working from home. I have reflected on the blessing of my situation many times with a desire to help. With that in mind, I have decided to write a series of posts to help the many sudden homeschoolers who may need a little encouragement or some principles to guide them on this new journey. So without further ado, here we go.
Today’s principle is to relax. Take a deep breath and tell yourself that everything is going to be okay. I understand the pressure of wanting to make sure that our children don’t fall behind. My oldest child went to public school through fourth grade. I remember well all of the meetings with his teachers. They would pull out his test scores and show me how far behind he was in reading. In my mind, we were doomed if we didn’t do something fast. How was he ever going to make anything of himself if he didn’t know how to read! I was going to end up with my oldest child living permanently in my basement!! His siblings were going to see that he couldn’t read and decide that they didn’t need to do anything either because he had it pretty cushy living in the basement!!! I was going to end up with a house full of adult children who couldn’t take care of themselves all because my son struggled to read!!!! I would never be an empty nester or have grandchildren!!!!! All of my hopes and dreams for my children were over and my oldest child was in first grade!!!!!!
Well, I had to put all of those thoughts to rest and do it quickly. My child was going to learn to read and he was going to get caught up. We sat on the couch every day and read together for 20 minutes. Picture in your mind the sweet scene of a loving and doting mother sitting next to her little child with a book in their hands and a smile on their faces. He’s trying his hardest to sound out each word and she’s giving words of encouragement and praise for his job well done. Now, throw that scene out the window. In reality, there was a great deal of frustration, more than a few tears, and not much learning at all. My child continued to test behind in reading and he didn’t have a learning disability; he just wasn’t interested in reading.
When I first started thinking about homeschooling, teaching my kids to read was my number one fear. I was way less intimidated by advanced math and chemistry than I was by phonics. Then, a miracle happened. He decided he WANTED to read. He started reading picture books, and then short chapter books, then longer chapter books and novels. By seventh grade, he had read The Lord of the Rings and I was telling him that he needed to stop reading and do his other school work. And, you can rest assured, he has no intention of living our basement for the rest of his life.
My message to each of you is that your child will be fine. Even if they get a little “behind” they will catch up when it matters to them. And, don’t forget that every other student is in the same boat. You have a lot going on right now. Many of you work outside the home and many of you work outside the home a lot. Many of you were working outside the home and now have to bring that work inside the home. Many of you have more than one child and they are all different ages and have different needs. Many of you are dealing with health struggles, either for yourself or someone you care for. The list of different situations goes on and on. But, I would guess that none of you have 30 or even 20 children who are all the same age learning all the same thing. Cut yourself some slack and just do your best. Remember, that we’re all in the same boat. School has changed for everyone for the time being and when we get back to a new normal, whenever that happens or however that looks, every teacher out there will be working with the same mix of kids who have had a very different looking school experience while they did it at home.
So right now take a deep breath and remind yourself that everything is going to be okay.
Leave me a message with your biggest challenges and I’ll do my best to help. Thanks for reading and don’t forget to breathe.