Updated: Nov 29, 2020
We’re on day 18 of quarantine, and things outside don’t seem to get better. With all of us in the house for the whole day, it brings a lot of challenges (probably all of you already realized by now). This is on top of the added stress and uncertainty of our own health and economic situation. Surprisingly for our family, things were going quite well; that was until school pressure made its appearance. Online classes, one computer for all, following deadlines, online tests, and all the amount of distractions that our household brings, has been challenging. I am struggling, in my situation with a very flexible job; I can’t even imagine how families with both working parents are doing.
To my surprise, the school sent a ton of work. Even the Physical Education and Music teachers (what do quarter and forte mean?!) sent their programs! In just a few days, I received tons of emails from each teacher and I had to understand names and labels of books and programs like Common Core (ohh… I’ll have a whole other post about Common Core!). Don’t get me wrong, I understand how much work the teachers are doing and I appreciate the effort and good intentions. I understand everything is new for them as well and believe me I admire them now more than ever! With that said, I think that the expectations as parent-teachers are high.
I have three children in three different grades, with three different learning approaches. There is the one that can concentrate perfectly, finishes everything quickly and needs minimum supervision. There is the other that simply doesn’t want to work: “No school? No work!” And finally, the one that is very responsible but just can’t manage to focus, and takes him the whole day to finish just a few tasks. Triggering frustration and anxiety in both of us. Unless all of your children are like my first one, you might be struggling as well.
There’s fear all around us, and the school system is no exception. There’s fear coming from the highest rank in government that our children will not do well. Fear from the school districts (or school’s owners in the case of the private sector) that their ranking will lose some places and even lose alumni. And that fear is given to the School Principal who pressures the teachers. And these teachers in the midst of this unknown situation, do their best, but still pouring their own fear to the children and parents. We, as parents with all this pressure and adding our own fears, end up putting this HUGE snow ball into the child.
It’s our job as parents to not let this load of fear also pass on to our children. How can we do this? By deconstructing our own fears and being conscious about them. What do we fear? We fear that our children will be behind the rest. We fear that our children won’t succeed in life, that they will struggle in the near and far future. Taking it to an extreme, we’re scared of them being homeless and fail in all aspects of life.
Let’s put that in perspective.
Is your child going to be behind after everything passes? Sure, he probably will, but literally all the children of the world that go school will be behind too. Believe me, your child is not the only one. These are not normal times, no one has dealt with this before, not schools nor teachers. I’m sure that next September every member of the educational system will do some adaptations to go back on track.
Fear that your child will not respect your authority? “She is not doing her work as I’m telling her to!” “If I let her do anything she wants, what will happen when we go back to our normal life?” I’m talking about school work here; house rules and limits need to remain in place. While you’re not a teacher, you’re still a parent; and probably you’ll adapt some of the rules to the confinement, but house rules need to stay.
Now more than ever you have an opportunity to connect with your child. Talk about their likes and interests, share laughs, games, dances and fun times. With connection, you will not fear the lack of authority. Maybe during this time, you can dig deep into the concept of Conscious Parenting, and change your perspective of authority and hierarchies in parenting.
Fear that your children will fail in life. Academics is not a synonym of success in life. They’re important in our society, indeed, but there are also other important aspects that we’ve been relegating in our educational system. Your children have the opportunity to learn resilience, adaptation in the midst of uncertainty, managing fear and important life habits. Remember all of that stuff that you wanted to teach your children, but never had time? What about house chores, doing laundry, cooking, gardening, etc.? Have you thought about the possibility of exploring their creativity or introduce some other areas of knowledge with all the free options online? Maybe during these months, they will find their passion and their flow. For me, these are priorities. We’ll have enough time to continue with the same old, but now we can see this time as an opportunity.
The resilience, adaptation, managing fear and life habits come with your example, you are their mirror, they’ll learn from you. This brings me to my final thought: If your children are happy doing school work at home, if they are able to manage, if you and them are adapting, kudos! Good for you and everyone, encourage the good work! In the other hand, if you’re struggling, I´m not saying to stop completely: find strategies, time frames, routines that work with your family, creativity, online tutoring etc.; keep this going unless it gets to the point where things are no longer manageable. If you think you’re losing your patience, if you’re about to yell or say something hurtful, just stop. Stop before you cut the connection, before you make a wound, before you say something that you will regret. Stop before you hurt yourself, before guilt comes in. Stop and let go the need of controlling school, just let go. These are not normal times, we have a lot in our hands: fear and uncertainty. With all this pressure, you are more susceptible to loose your calm, is understandable. That is why you need to be alert to the triggers, focus in the breath when you feel they are coming, and stop them. In these moments your sanity, your children’s sanity and house peace are the priority.
Today school is not my priority, my family is. What is your priority?
Delia - Mom of 3- Conscious Parenting Coach- Psychologist