In Times Like These #7 3-21-2020
An apple a day keeps the doctor away? Hmmmm. Not in these times. And anyway, it’s risky to have to go from store to store to procure the apple.
In these times, we are afraid. We are hearing an ‘alert’ every hour or so, and due to phone expertise, we may receive alerts every few minutes, depending which apps we have downloaded. So, here’s a reminder – it will be what it will be – and it’s ok to find out an hour (or afternoon) later. We do not need minute by minute info. By now we know the basics – we have a virus among us and to decrease its potential impact we need to stay physically away from one another for some length of time.
But HOW do we do that? Here is a tip for moms (and dads too) – for crafts time, have your kids and yourselves make capes and in particular, have the kids make you a SUPERMOM cape. Wear it when you’re feeling strong and brave. Wear it when you’re gonna tear your hair out. Wear it when you’re feeling giddy and giggly. Just remember to take it off when you’re feeling sad and nervous because none of us is SUPER all the time. And it’s okay for our children to see that.
And – not to get teachers mad at me but…it’s okay (and highly likely) if your children are not ‘learning their lessons’ every day at home. I guarantee you they are learning LOTS of things. Every day. And also, I guarantee you that there is not one kid who is going to be able to cognitively take in all that is being taught in this new world. There is too much background noise, and I don’t just mean the vacuum. The world is upside down and our kids know it. So, they can study algebra and build their robot at home but assume their ability to take in and acquire new didactic information has its limits. Which is really, in the course of life on this planet, fine. We will all survive if at this point in time grammar rules and spelling words and chemistry labs are not mastered.
Instead, (or in addition) let’s review what you basically need to learn in order to function in the world (and perhaps go to college and not bounce back). It is not necessarily on the menu your child or you are receiving on the online curricula from their schools, but it is ‘back to basics’ for life skills.
Laundry. Every child at home should be doing laundry. All steps of it. Every day if you have access do to it in a safe place. Even a preschooler can do parts of it – separate out colors, choose the temperature, press the buttons - - - take warm nice smelling things out of the dryer, fold clothes, put clothes back where they go. Yup. It is not the same as language arts of course, but it is good learning.
Organization. Every child at home can help get themselves and the family organized, even the littler ones. They can set a table. They can set an alarm for when to get up and figure out what to do first and what to do last in a day. It’s not math, but it is a skill you need to do math.
Responsibility. Every child can learn responsibility. Clean up after yourself and offer to clean up after others. Call grandma. Teach your parents how to operate their new Zoom account. This is not history, but it is Civics/Civility and goes a long way IRL (in real life.)
Communication. While on hiatus from our old world, it’s a perfect time for every child at home to hone their communication skills. That includes active listening as well as engaged talking. We have a generation who excel at texting and social media, but who struggle in face to face realms. They even have a hard time on screen face to face, unless they are putting bunny ears on one another and making 30 second tic tok dances or videomems that are hilarious but NOT actual forms of communicating with live humans. I applaud the creativity of their endeavors and say, IN ADDITION, learn how to talk and listen, take turns, approximate mood and tone from cadence, and modulate pitch and volume. It’s not a foreign language class, but it IS a foreign skill for many of our kids.
Mistakes. This is a good time to let our children make errors and to not pre-save them from themselves. They are in the nest and are cocooned with safety, surrounded by the family and really glued together. Let them mess up with a friend, and then let them be upset, debrief with you and figure out if re-winding, what could they have done different, make amends and move on. Let them be mean or disrespectful to a parent and then you can be upset with them in response and – repeat as above – debrief, figure out if re-winding what could have been done different, make amends and move on. It’s not an ethics class but – well – it really is an opportunity to teach ethics!
It’s impressive what our schools are attempting to accomplish. I applaud the efforts. I also say, let’s be realistic and perhaps lower our expectations for academic mastery and raise our expectations for life’s lessons. It’s not school, but it IS experience, and in these times, that means a lot!