I can sit here and list one million and two ways that the pandemic has negatively impacted so many different things but I won't. In my post-pandemic healing journey and I am really trying to ask myself what if I look at the positive side, not just flip it around but actually dig through and look at what I walked away with that makes me a better mother, wife, daughter, sister and friend. The girls education is one of those things that I can truly pull hard core positive facts that have made me a better mom to a school age kid. The ways I can know support my girls education from home is astronomically better. And let me tell you why.
I have a year and a half of listening to Z's classes, helping with classwork, mediating small groups on zoom, watching my child with her teacher and watching how she totally shrunk 3 times smaller when her classmates were wilding out (because we all know it happened, and happened often!). I got to watch what my daughter excelled at, struggled with and what she truly enjoyed. What a blessing that is!!! Seriously, to learn in her younger years these things and be able to support her. One example is with a math tutor, not because she was behind but because she didn't feel as confident in it. I've learned so much but the four biggest things that I know will allow me to support them both while they learn at school for years to come are these:
1. I want to keep in touch with teachers on what they are working on in school in each subject so that I can continue the learning at home. This may sound ludicrous to some but being able to continue her Bird Study this past spring as a family was so much for and a great learning experience for all of us. I plan on staying connected with teachers and keeping in the know on what they are learning to support her at home will be so important. (see below for the fun items I picked up for both girls "school room" and how I plan on hopefully having a space for this come Fall!)
2. Support and not penalize a child that feels less confident in one area. Ami was super uninterested in letters, like woe up around 3 and wanted nothing with the alphabet. And although Zoe is talented in math she is not confident in it, and would completely shut down when it wasn't one on one time. For a lot of parents it can be kids and reading, where they are either not interested or not confident or simply needing more support.
I found myself frustrated during distance learning but then I remembered an exercise I did in therapy years ago, writing down the things I was just not good at, and math being one of the first things on that list. We talked through why I felt I wasn't good at the things, and I remember mentioning to her my twin was always the math and tech guy and I was the reading and writing girl, how it was a label that was placed early on and it stuck (and was true in many cases!). As a mom during the pandemic I think back at that and I wonder what if I had done more than just get buy or be frustrated by it. What if I had gotten tutors or spent more time with the subject that I was less confident in? I want to remember to support, not label and penalize for things my girls are having trouble with or even just things that they have an internal block with.
3. Keep our daily scheduled slower paced and less packed. I think back to the pre-pandemic days where I ran errands in the city, ran to the girls activities, ran to pick up, ran to grab dinner stuff, ran to two after school activities + a playdate back to back and I am out of breath thinking about it. When I think about how packed a schedule can get with multiple kids in school, I realize how much I want to also support their down time. Giving us all time to slow down, to not rush through homework or projects, making time to sit together and decompress after a school day or at the end of the week.
I am going to work on saying no more, keeping after school activities limited, and absolutely no two birthday parties or activities for one child in a day. Pandemic living of sitting at the table with a puzzle, or finishing math assignments together, practicing reading or picking new read out louds that we read all afternoon because they are soooo good is how I hope to support the girls.
4. Know her schedule and help them organize/prepare for it. Ok this may sound insane fut Z's Kindergarten class I did not know what day science or art were, maybe I had to much on my plate and should have asked or maybe the school should have shared a schedule, either way it was always a little disappointing when she didn't have what she needed or didn't feel prepared for something. Pandemic life had me know for schedules, heck I got nightmares on not having supplies for science experiments! HAHAHA A big goal of mine is not only to know what the schedule is, posting it for the family but also teaching the girls to help in the organization that goes with being prepared.
For example, helping the girls put out clothes for the next day, by checking their schedule, and the weather. Another way is helping Zoe pack her backpack for the next day with things she needs. For us this means creating a checklist of what goes in and what she has to check to be prepared for the next day. ( I will talk more about age appropriate chores soon!) I hope that this not only helps us all be prepared and know what is going that week but tools that they will use for life. The independence and self sufficiency that goes into this is a HUGE life skill.
Have you thought about what PANDEMIC HABITS you will keep? Please share them, I'd love to round up some that you all are considering!