School will be going back in session very soon. For some families school has already gone back. While the country is still dealing with all the current effects of COVID-19, political unrest, cultural divisions, and economic uncertainty one thing remains the same: the world is still spinning and time is still moving forward. Children still need some for of education and jobs still need to be worked.
Public education departments all over the country are having continual discussions about how and when to return to school this fall. Should learning be done on an strictly virtual scale? Should we attempt a hybrid system with some kids in a classroom physically and other learning through a computer screen? Should we make the decision for the parents or allow them to decide what model they feel most comfortable with? As we have seen over the course of the last 5 months, there seem to be more questions than answers.
While I have my thoughts on traditional brick and mortar school settings vs. homeschooling that is not what this post is about. This post is about time management and flexibility. While it seems that most school districts are opting for a virtual learning platform at least until sometime after Labor Day, there are some that are attempting the hybrid half and half model of schooling. At some point all of these kiddos will have to get their learning away from the traditional face to face with 20+ other children surrounding them setting.
One of the things that I learned very quickly when I started on my homeschooling journey is that there is a big difference between a schedule and a routine. This was something that I was reminded of yet again just the other day. When you have a schedule you are locking yourself into a required time block. Very rarely when a schedule is set is there room built in for the emergencies, the malfunctions of the day, the rhythm and flow of daily life. Every activity is given a time frame and all work that is to be done within that time frame needs to be completed and wrapped up up on time with a pretty little bow attached.
When you think of a routine you have more room for flexibility. There is a general idea of what activity will come first and what will follow and so on and so forth. The great part of this is that if a wonderful discussion opens up about the topic you are learning for the day there is room and time to explore that subject. It also leaves room for messes, explorations, and life to just get in the way. It opens the doors to so much wonderful possibility.
Now I am aware that there are going to be requirements for those out there that have children in the public school settings but the point of this is short and sweet: embrace routine. Don’t get trapped in the rut of a schedule. Be prepared to enter each day with an open palm and just take things as they come. Understand that we are all still just trying to make it and survive each day. Teachers are doing their level best to provide the best possible education they can with what they have to work with. This is not the way any of them would prefer to teach. So if you are still riding strong with the public or private school systems learn grace. Be open to all the ideas that are being presented and help your children to be excited about embracing a new challenge. The truth is that this will, if you allow it to, make your children better learners. They will learn to be self-starters, they will have to learn to reach out and ask for help with they need it in ways they wouldn’t have in the past. And they will learn that being flexible and rolling with the punches is what we all have to do sometimes. One of the best lessons that can be learned throughout this time, especially for those kids who are in late middle school and high school is to adapt and lean into the time management required.
On the other hand, if you are making the scary and possibly uncomfortable decision to homeschool your children (and by homeschool I mean be 100% in charge of the curriculum and learning process) then I say this: come to terms with the idea that there is no such thing as “being behind” when it comes to education. The bench marks and test scores and requirements that have been set by the public education system are arbitrary. Of course when you have a large group of children all doing the same things at the same time there has to be some way of determining if the information being taught is being learned. So the scope and sequences and the bench marks are created. However, what those bench marks don’t take into account are the individual learning styles, interests, desires, and needs of the children. If you are taking your child’s education back into your own hand let the idea of them “being behind” go right this very minute.
As I have thought more and more through this area of the collateral damage that has come with this global health crisis it is clear that the parents and teachers are just doing what they feel is necessary to make the best of a horrible situation. But what isn’t happening is modeling grace, humility, a spirit of cooperation and unity, or love for our children. No matter what the decisions are that have been made either by state or federal legislature or local school districts parents we need to show our children how to respond. Blatant disrespect or disregard for those who are in leadership is not helpful and will only set our children up for failure in the long run. So don’t push back. Open your hearts and minds. Try to walk in the shoes of the ones who are just trying to keep everyone safe. Pray for their hearts and minds to be clear and to be hearing from the Lord.
I know this time is hard and scary. And I know this post has gone a little scattered, which is why I am going to wrap things up here. I hope that something I have said is somewhat helpful. If not, that’s fine. Ignore my ramblings. Most of the time that is probably the best option anyway.
Until next time! Stay safe. Stay healthy. And wear your mask!