I’m going to respond to some comments I’m receiving during this shutdown. As a former homeschooling mum with previous homeschool support experience, I have some words of affirmation for the parents trying to maintain academic consistency at home.
“My child refuses to participate.” I’m sure many parents trying to follow the distance learning programs coming in by the thousands are finding that children think home and school are separate. It has always been this way for most, so it truly is a mental battle of wills to expect a child to be a student where s/he has never before been expected to. I want you to recall a time when your child wouldn’t participate in a family activity or in chores. Did you make an ultimatum? Did you coax and bribe? We all have our own ways of accomplishing the musts in our home, and this is no exception. I won’t tell you which is the “right” way to help a child with distance learning, but I will tell you that you have been the parent for “X” number of years now, and you can still be the parent now! Remember your past successes, and do not let this current disappointment dictate your abilities. Protect your position as a parent.
“Homeschooling is hard.” Yes, it is, but you’re actually protecting their academics at home. Homeschooling involves selecting a curriculum, paying for it, and scheduling an entire school year of assignments. You have to break that down to monthly and weekly goals. You have to be very detailed in daily assignments. For those of you who are receiving emails, programs, and rubrics from your children’s teachers, you are actually not homeschooling. You haven’t registered as a homeschool, nor have you gone to the civil meetings about school choice to defend your right to teach your own children. You aren’t even responsible for how much they learn; their grades do not reflect on you. In fact, you are facilitating distance learning. This is your role: to protect their connection to their school. You can do this! It’s not easy, but your teachers are working VERY hard to transition, and I know you can transition, too. You are morphing into a facilitator, and you’ve conquered many more parenting challenges. Notice who is helping with this system and declare yourself a participant in this online village.
“It’s too much.” Most of the parents who are working from home see this distance learning as a conflict to their life. It is too much if you see yourself as ALL of these positions the way Americans consider life. You’re no longer a worker OR a parent, and it really is overwhelming to be both at the same time. Many are workers, parents, janitors, even caregivers for elderly parents; the list goes on and on. You really only have one job, though, if you prioritize yourself as a protector. If school is left undone, dishes pile in the sink, and your Zoom meetings get showered by Nerf bullets, you’re still the protector of your house and home.
Every year from mid-May to August, the endangered loggerhead sea turtles lay their eggs in nests on the sand dunes of the Outer Banks of North Carolina. The nests are shallow, covered in sand. The mother lays almost 100 eggs and then abandons them; she just swims back to the sea, leaving the helpless eggs. Very few will survive. They face deadly natural dangers as well fire ants, crabs, and seagulls, which kill a large percentage of them after birth. They face dangers while still unborn in their protective eggshells. Stray dogs eat them. Fishermen step on the nests. Off-road trucks drive over them. If the shell is broken before the baby turtle is ready to come out, it dies. Some cities have banned vehicles on the beaches where we know that the nests are, and you need to see yourself as the protector of your little babies who just got out of their shells.
I know they talk back and refuse to participate. I know that you’re overwhelmed, but you ARE the parent. Wash your hands, give the children their assignments, and sign into your meeting. At the end, they will still be alive and you will still be the parent. You are the protector!
By Yaki Cahoon