Amid nationwide school closures and isolation, many parents are navigating unchartered territory. Overwhelmed by all the fancy schedules and homeschooling materials out there? Read this first.
By Anash.org writer
The kids are home from school. You’re home from work, or working from home. There’s no externally enforced structure, no day trips, and in many cases, no outdoor play either.
Social media is chock full of pictures of perfectly coordinated schedules and beautifully organized individual work spaces; every friend is posting links to great resources for transforming isolation into an educational and bonding experience.
If you fear you are slowly losing your sanity, you’re not alone. If it seems that every other parent has this whole isolation thing down pat and you’re the only one who can’t seem to get it together- think again. Many parents are floundering now; we’ve never dealt with anything like this before. You can do this, just be patient with yourself.
“Please don’t compare yourself to anybody else,” says shlucha and homeschooling mother Mrs. Esti Grossman. “Over the next few days you will see beautiful pictures of projects and schedules and ideas and menus. It’s so easy to feel down and unsuccessful. So easily we make expectations for ourselves and feel disappointed afterwards when we don’t live up to them.”
Let’s start with the basics. Forget the schedules, and the work environment, and the ‘creating happy memories’ bit for a second. There’s a hierarchy of priorities.
Your kids need to eat.
They need to sleep, at some point.
They should bathe, brush their teeth and change clothing regularly- for everyone’s sakes.
They need the security of knowing they’re loved and will be provided for.
If you can do this, your children will come out of this experience ok. Still, implementing structure wherever possible will make this a smoother, easier ride for everyone.
Scheduling consistent mealtimes and bedtimes gives your children a sense of order and predictability. Creating a daily schedule is similarly helpful for keeping the whole family on task and warding off chaos. An added benefit: the resulting calm will likely improve everyone’s moods and behavior.
If your child has online school and work prepared by their teachers, they are probably expecting you to make that part of your routine as well. Just remember that even your best efforts may not produce the results you are hoping for. In this unprecedented situation, no one knows what they can realistically expect.
“If you enjoy seeing pictures and schedules and advice, [continue to] enjoy! If it’s slowly dragging you down there is no need,” Mrs. Grossman suggests. “Some kids will learn and some kids will play for the next few weeks. Some kids will play nicely and some will fight. It’s all ok; Hashem put each kid in exactly the right home for what he needs… even if that means the kids didn’t learn a thing.”
Each family has its own dynamic, and each parent has his or her own strengths. Put at least as much effort into the areas you excel in as you do into implementing skills that are difficult for you.
“Don’t be hard on yourself,” Mrs. Grossman says. “Make sure you’re happy so your kids will be happy.”
This isolation period is challenging, but it’s also brimming with opportunity. If you can encourage learning, foster creative play, teach new skills, and create happy memories – even for part of the time – the greatest global disruption in your lifetime may turn out to be something you can look back on proudly, and even fondly.
Looking for resources and tips? Check back tomorrow morning for a comprehensive list of free and frum resources available to parents during COVID-19 school closures.