By Rebecca Honig, director of content and curriculum at Ready4K
I quietly closed the door to my bedroom/office. I was about to deliver a webinar to 900 educators and school administrators from across the country. I needed to block the sound of my three children as they played downstairs. Sitting down to log onto Zoom, I paused.
What was I thinking? I’d get five sentences into my presentation when one of them would call up for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. THIS occasion required a speech.
I quickly ran downstairs.
“Kids” I announced in my most official mommy voice, “I’m going to need you to be quiet while I give this presentation. It’s going to last an hour, so you’ll need to use your inside voices for one hour. No shouting. No loud whining. No calling up to me.”
My six-year-old immediately chimed in, “Mom. I don’t think I can do that.”
“What do you mean?” I responded, “It’s just one hour! You use an inside voice ALL DAY in your classroom?!?”
“Well yeah,” my son explained, “But my SISTERS aren’t in my classroom.”
His comment was eye opening. And when I had time to reflect on it, I realized, “Why would I expect my kids to behave, at home, like they do in school?” This is the place where they let their guards down. Home is where they can stomp around in their PJs and moan about the state of their lives. It’s where they can be loud and dance and argue and have BIG feelings. Home is the place where siblings know all their buttons and sometimes take great pleasure in pushing them. It’s where they act out their fantasies and frustrations and process their worries and fears.
For all of these reasons (and so many more) home can be a tricky place to focus and get things done. Home is not the same as school. And home learning is NOT the same as classroom learning.
I’m guessing I’m not the only parent who needs this reminder. So here are a few messages you might share with the families you serve:
- It’s totally normal for home learning to have ups and downs. If something is not working, it’s okay to stop and try something different.
- Kids may have their own thoughts on how to make home learning work best. Try making them your partner as you figure out your learning routines. Try questions like:
- “What time of day do you think you’d like to do [reading/math]?”
- “So where do you think it will be easiest for you to get this assignment done?”
- “What’s one thing you want to do after you’ve finished?”
- Home learning doesn’t have to look as structured as school learning. Build a fort out of blankets if it means your child will want to read in it.
- Even when things don’t go as planned, your child is still learning. They’re learning to navigate relationships, entertain themselves, solve problems and express themselves. That’s learning that will help them when they return to school!
- Celebrate small victories with your child. Finished an assignment? Have a short dance party. Did some reading? Take a play break.
- If this all starts to feel like too much, don’t hesitate to reach out. We are here to listen and we are here to help. We’re all in this together.