What we are being asked to do right now isn’t homeschooling. Teacher moms know what it means to dedicate themselves to their work, but this takes it to another level.
While scrolling through my newsfeed full of friends from all over the country and checking out some posts in a local mom’s group on Facebook, I realize that moms everywhere, myself included, are feeling the stress of being at home now for over six weeks. As I think back to Spring Break time, I knew that we probably would not be going back to school… but the official decision still felt like a surprise that no one had enough time to prepare for. With very little warning, moms across the country were given a job that we definitely didn’t sign up for – because suddenly, we were expected to be teachers on top of everything else we have to do. Well, that’s not completely true, because technically I did sign up to be a teacher. I am an educator by trade and have two college degrees, over eight years of classroom experience, and a lot of student loan debt to prove it. But can I be honest with y’all? I feel about as prepared to teach my own child as all the non-teacher moms out there. You all feel overwhelmed too, right?
I know how to teach high school Spanish and can conjugate verbs in my sleep…but 2nd grade Math? Yeah… no thanks. For the first few weeks, sitting down and “encouraging” (ok… forcing) my 8-year-old to do school work resulted in tantrums, tears, and tons of frustration for both of us. As schools across St. Louis made the unanimous decision to not return for the remainder of this school year, I made the unanimous decision to lock myself in the bathroom with a glass of wine and cry. The first few weeks of distance learning and trying to teach my own child left me feeling frustrated and exhausted. But a few mornings later, I read an article my friend shared on Facebook about homeschooling during all of this. It said that what we’re experiencing isn’t homeschooling, but rather “crisis schooling.” It helped me realize that my child is just that – my child. She was never meant to be my student, and there is no way I can replicate a true school experience at home. My priority is to make her feel safe, secure, and happy. If we’re being honest, this whole quarantine situation is pretty traumatic on everyone, and I can’t imagine what it’s like to be a child living through all of this.
So I decided to finally give both of us a little more grace as we’re navigating our new normal. Around this time, my friend Eileen (who actually does homeschool) shared some insight on Facebook and helped me realize that true homeschooling is just a few hours of instruction and investigation per day. I can handle 2 hours or so of academic-related “stuff,” especially if I break it up throughout the day. As I was scrolling Facebook, I saw that another friend, Stephanie, shared her family’s quarantine schedule, and I instantly took a screenshot. I loved how her schedule had an unstructured structure, and it even included time for TV, tablet, and videogames. The best part? Every “time slot” included choices. So now my 2nd grader and I have our own loose schedule full of reading, tablet time, outdoor walks, coloring, chores, Disney+ binge-ing, and a math worksheet or two for good measure… and even though we still might have a tantrum from time-to-time, we’re surviving, and that’s all that matters.