Under quarantine and conditions of uncertainty, homeschooling has different goals from those during normal times. Here’s how to lean into that . . .
When stressful conditions abound, focus on your family’s well being, safety, and health. Academics can wait. Kids will catch up later. The lesson right now is showing your children how to manage uncertainty, how to be there for one another, how to be good neighbors, and how to stay safe and healthy. This is a teachable moment like no other! Seize the day.
Attend to your own well being first.
Your kids are looking to you to set the tone and reaction to world events outside of our control. Attend to your emotional and spiritual needs first so you can support others. What does that look like for you? A quiet time of Scripture reading or meditation first thing in the morning? A consistent routine of exercise or morning walk? A chance to catch up with girlfriends in a casual Zoom meetup once a week?
It’s not heroic to deny yourself in these trying time. You may have a few superpowers (most home school moms do), but you aren’t super human–stress is depleting. Your family’s well being depends on your well being first.
Empathy is everything.
Empathy is the ability to understand and feel what another is experiencing, even if it is not how we are responding. It is stepping into the other’s shoes and coming alongside them in a way that validates their experiences.
When your children are afraid or angry about how the restrictions affect them, do you tell them they shouldn’t feel that way? Or do you say you understand? Do you admit you sometimes have those emotions too? Empathy is the latter, and it is empowering. Real change is more likely when our feelings are validated than when they are judged or dismissed. A lack of empathy from those who matter to us compound our negative emotions with shame and guilt. Now we are in an even deeper hole with no one to help us dig ourselves out.
Empathy is not a natural response when we’re all under stress and dependent on one another. We have to choose to be empathetic. Consider adding a regular time to the routine when family members can talk about how they are doing and each person can experience the affirmation and validation of others. Showing your kids how to express empathy toward parents and siblings is also part of this unprecedented teachable moment.
Finally, what lasting memories can you make with your children right now? What will your unique pandemic family story be?
- Sewing face masks for neighbors?
- Creative social distancing events?
- Making a scrapbook?
- Completing a 1000 piece puzzle then framed for posterity?
- Binge-watching a series together?
- Learning a new game or hobby?
- Applauding local health care workers?
It doesn’t have to be grand. It just has to be memorable, and then retold over and over again (just like your grandparents mined the Great Depression and WWII for all it was worth.) This is our moment, let’s make the most of it with our families.
Stay safe. Stay healthy.