This is the question that most parents are battling as the fall school year creeps upon us. Should we send our babies back to school or tackle the task of supporting e-learning? Or, should we ditch the entire system and teach our child ourselves? I will be the first to admit that I have experienced an extreme amount of conflicting thoughts while trying to determine the best possible set-up for my kids education in the fall.
Last spring’s sudden e-learning fiasco almost drove my family off the edge. Tackling the pandemic and school in our home meant trying to run, walk, sing, dance, and create calm all at the same time. Managing my children’s new education platform meant prepping every night for the tomorrow’s lesson, making sure they were present for sessions online, and reteaching lessons they were not able to comprehend during e-learning. This does not seem too bad at first glance. But, try managing this while working your own job, servicing clients, balancing high levels of your own fear and anxiety, and constantly having to reassure two teens who strongly wanted to be in the presence of their peers that everything we were experiencing was temporary. I truly felt as if I was being set up to fail this lesson as a parent.
But, what I was not prepared for in all of this was the mental and emotional toll of being away from school would have on my children. My son who is an introvert reacted in a way that worried me deeply. He started off not being able to sleep at night, to waking up at 4:00am laying in silence waiting for everyone in our home to rise. School for him provides a level of social interaction where he can put forth minimum effort and is still able to maintain a healthy social life. My daughter on the other hand transformed my home into a FaceTime free-for-all. Literally on the phone from sun up until sun down. I would call it overly socializing, but to her, this was needed as substitute for managing the new found distance she was experiencing from her peers and social groups.
So how do you decide what learning scenario is best for your home?
Determine the Risk Factor: Make a list of the positive and negative impacts your schooling decision will have on your child’s education. Then access the risk. Only you as the parent will be able to conclude what learning system is conducive to providing the best possible educational set-up for your child. Not Sally, David, or Mrs. Davison. Since you are required to carry out your decision daily, then you, and only you, have the power to decide.
Research: Do your research. This could include taking a poll to see what others are deciding for their homes, or consulting with your pediatrician and school officials. Make sure you fully express that you are only wanting to know their opinion, and avoid any conversation that undermines your decision. Either way, be prepared to hear their opinion while remembering that it is just an opinion. Every home has a different make-up, therefore, every home will make a different choice.
Create a Schedule: Prepare at least a 30 day schedule of what is needed to execute your decision. If you are allowing your child to participate in onsite learning, figure out what will be required daily to keep your child, their peers, and your home safe. If you decide to participate in e-learning, decide how can you effectively set up your home and schedule to ensure this choice is beneficial to everyone involved.
Be Patient: Be patient with your decision and the world around you. Not everyone will agree with your decision and other families will decide a different approach this fall. This is okay. Understand, we are all individuals trying to navigate this new world of new circumstances. So be gentle with yourself, and offer grace to others.
For my home, we have decided to tackle two options, e-learning and in-school education. While my son’s school has decided to offer only e-learning as a course of action, my daughter’s school has created a hybrid model offering on campus class sessions two days a week. So as you can imagine, we have to manage two different course of actions. But overall, we are affirmed in our current decision and our educational set-up for the fall. This may change as time changes, but as for now, we will be embracing our new normal and making sure our household supports this new venture.