The Art of Home-Schooling
Hmm… is home-schooling an art? Perhaps I should alter the title to read The Challenges of Home-Schooling…
We are in our sixth week of home-schooling with no clear end in sight. Provinces are slowly opening up across Canada, however Ontario is still in lock-down. Our state of emergency has been extended to June 02nd. Although select non-essential businesses have been allowed to open (with extreme safety-measures put in place), all schools across the province remain closed. Parents are home, with their children, nurturing them, raising them, parenting them, entertaining them, and schooling them. All the while trying to navigate through this time of uncertainty – and for the thousands that now must work from home who are still expected to deliver the same quality of work pre-pandemic – it is no easy feat! From the countless number of joke giffs and memes splayed daily across my Facebook and Twitter feeds about home-schooling I can tell it is taking a toll on many parents.
My situation is slightly different. Basically, I have no job to focus on. I lost my job as a direct result of this global pandemic. Therefore, my job is my son. I am his mommy, his teacher, his principal, his playmate. I wear many hats throughout the day, all the while trying to reign my son in to focus on completing 3 assignments per day, plus reading, plus physical activity, plus playtime… by 4pm I am an exhausted mess, with another 4 hours of the day to go… and I just have the one child! I cannot begin to imagine what it would be like with multiple children of varying ages and learning levels, trying to guide them through virtual school/lessons and parent, and (perhaps) work. How did this become our reality?
Home-schooling during a pandemic is very challenging. It is a balancing act of schoolwork vs. playtime, and that is because of the many distractions in the home. This is where they live and play, and now they must learn to school here too. There is a natural resistance to begin and complete schoolwork when at home. However, I do consider ourselves lucky because my son’s teacher is ever-present. She responds to his posted work, which gives him motivation, and she keeps in contact via email and telephone. She is organized. She posts clear, concise assignments that are easy to follow. The schoolwork is challenging enough that he is learning, but not too challenging that I cannot assist him. She has worked hard at finding fun and engaging activities for us to share at home; and as a result of her commitment to her students, and my commitment to my son, I have noticed exponential growth in him. But – it is still virtual learning. It is not a system our schools are set-up to handle, or that hundreds of families across the province are set-up to accommodate (e.g., limited internet access, no access to computers, no printer, etc.). That includes us. We have multiple laptops, but no printer, and at least 1 of the 3 assignments requires printouts. As a result, mommy has been doing a lot of free-hand copying… but we make it work.
We make it work. That in itself is a valuable lesson for our children to learn. Through all the challenges, the uncertainty, the exasperating and the vexing moments, we do not give up. We find a way through it. We come out of it on top – for we have learned something about ourselves – we have grown. Yes, we may work hard to give our children stability and security, but this life lesson – this remarkable truth about life – is invaluable.
Sitting with my son, each and every day, guiding him through his lessons and helping him along has been an interesting experience. I have had the great pleasure of watching him grasp concepts, improve upon techniques, and get excited about his accomplishments. I have also had the displeasure of seeing him react to mistakes, his inability to focus, or his quick-temperedness when feeling frustrated. In those moments I instruct him to walk away and take a break; or we change activities and return to the previous when he feels calmer. I also assure him that what he feels is healthy and normal, and I try to teach him helpful ways of handling the big emotions.
Will all of this help? Will the virtual lessons, the home-schooling, and the battles to learn be worth it all? Despite the stress lines appearing across my forehead, and the white hairs rapidly sprouting from my head (from the stress of it all), I do think it is worth it. It gives our children a sense of purpose, direction, and focus. It adds to their feelings of stability and allows them to remain – even if only – remotely connected to their teacher. And through it all, they are learning. I know my son is learning. And I am very proud of him – not for what he has accomplished but of how he is handling this precarious time in our lives.
Home-schooling is not just about the schoolwork but also about all the challenges that surround it. We need to give our children as well as ourselves a great big hug. We need to recognize and appreciate all that we are accomplishing in the most unprecedented of times. We need to be grateful that we have support. Turn to it when needed. Give it when possible.
We are survivors.
Home-schooling. It most certainly is an art.
The Art of Home-Schooling. Published by Crystal Joy Hall
Featured Image: Nanea Hoffman