We’ve been at this a few weeks now. Based on stories I’m hearing and reading, we’re all slowly but surely feeling a bit more peace with learning at home. I have two kids who homeschool and one in public school, and I assure you both educational circumstances have changed tremendously. For one, we have a full-time Director of Procurement working in our building (bedroom) and popping into our school day unannounced (it’s a good thing we’re crazy about him). Our local public school is not offering formal instruction due to inequality of available online learning options (teachers, we love and miss you!). If you’re working full time and educating your kids from home I toast to you because that, friends, is tough stuff. If you or your spouse are working on the front lines of healthcare right now, thank you for your sacrifice and ongoing servant leadership.
Our family has faced times of high transition due to our double-digit moves around the US and Canada. My childhood was knit together in crisis and trauma. Here’s what I know about what kids crave and most need during those times: healthy leadership. Being their teacher is great (I loooove teaching!) but right now I’m more focused on leading them through a history-making pandemic well. The need for healthy, strong leaders is never more evident than in times of change and crisis. The same is true as parents leading in our homes, so here are a few starting points to consider:
First, be emotionally and physically approachable and understanding. If you’ve ever walked into a boss’s office and been emotionally shut out you’ll know exactly what I mean. If you’ve ever been physically dismissed by a superior, you’ll likely not forget the feeling. Let’s foster high-trust, open relationships with our kids right now (always, but especially now).
Second, lead them well by influencing (not controlling) their learning options and environment. In general, kids learn best in a low pressure, mixed sensory spaces where they’re allowed to explore and interact with new material and concepts. Kids rarely tell us they’re feeling stress, they show us. If your home learner is acting stressed, see where you can influence their learning environment for the better. I could write a whole separate post on ideas for this, but in summary, just be gracefully unapologetic in doing what’s best for your kids.
Third, intentionally share your perspective with your kids on age-appropriate pandemic topics. If they’re Zooming, FaceTiming, or HousePartying with friends or other groups you can be sure they’re getting someone’s perspective there, so make sure your voice is healthy and relevant to their age/stage of life. Your kids likely hear and see more than you realize, so make it a new habit to ask good questions on and be prepared to talk them through any misconceptions or fears. Our family’s faith in God grounds our perspective, and right now it’s even more evident because when everything feels shaken and uncertain, we believe God and what he says is true is resolute.
Lastly, on a side but important note, I just want to remind us all (myself included) that too much news and media leaves our kids feeling unsafe. Let’s just keep that in mind as we live out upcoming weeks altogether in our homes. Again, kids won’t tell you in so many words but eventually, you’ll see fear and stress play out in one form or another in their (and our) behaviors. Read books, turn on music, watch good movies, and play games together to lighten or alter these sometimes long days. We can do this, parents. Let’s be the strong, healthy leaders in our homes we so desperately need and want at our corporate, state, and national levels.