“Home School” as an Under-Parenter

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The world seems to have changed overnight. But I haven’t. My kids haven’t. My family dynamic hasn’t. We’re adapting to this new reality, but doing it in a way that stays true to who we are.

I’ll preface this by saying that my kids are a little older (8, 10, and almost 12), and they’re used to having a hands-off mother when it comes to schoolwork. These are things that work for us, and while they may not be right for you, I’d encourage everyone to think about aspects of their family that are already part of the “team culture” and use those to map out the [fill in the blank with a realistic, yet somewhat optimistic measure of time] to come.

This is a STRANGE reality right now, and my kids are looking for something familiar…that something, by default, since they don’t go anywhere, is ME! Without saying it, I’m showing them that if I’m still me, then they’re still them. 

I’m not the teacher, and I’m not the principal. I’m their mom, and just like I’ve done for the past 12 years, I’ll make sure they have what they need, I’ll answer their questions, I’ll support their efforts, and at the end of the day if they tried, I’ll be happy. So I’m creating a hint of structure – a loose schedule or guide, with plenty of white space, but I honestly don’t care if my kids learn anything academic during this season of school at home. I do, however, want them to THINK. I want them to engage and be exposed to new things.

I’m so grateful for all of the people who’ve continued to pour into our kids with their free content. There are literally endless resources, …which is good because in recognizing my limitations, I’m certainly not about to write lesson plans. 

In creating a schedule, what was most important to me was that we laid out the things that were to happen each day and made it clear that they are separate events. Do a thing, close it up, and then do something else – NOT endless snacks that flow into school work that gets done while watching TV shows that then carry over into lunch. One thing at a time. We don’t need to multitask here! And without a set wake-up and bedtime, how would differentiate the weekends?

Here are a few of our favorite resources so far: 

Cincinnati Zoo’s FB page is doing daily live videos with one of their animals. Day 1 was Fiona, the hippo, and we were hooked! My kids watch this from the previous day at 9:45/10 a.m. during our morning work block, and then then they write five interesting things about it. 

Street Food is a Netflix docu-series about street food around the world, and my kids are fascinated by it. We usually start our afternoon block by watching one of these 30-minute episodes, and then the kids write five interesting facts.

I know there are a bunch of museums offering free tours, these are on our list to check out, but in the meantime, I found this YouTube video of a family on a tour of the Henry Ford Museum. I feel like I should find this guy and thank him because my kids LOVED this! Again, they wrote five interesting things about the video.

While my kids are watching these videos, I do something else. I let them watch on the TV or a laptop in another room, and I stay at the school table. When they come back to the table afterward they’re talking about it… communicating and interacting and telling me about it. THIS is why they’re watching the videos so that they can share and engage and think and form opinions about new things. 

So here’s my advice: 

You do you!  This will likely be a season of less academic learning  – that’s ok. Don’t make yourself miserable right off the bat… know what you’re capable of and start there

Give your kids some room to be themselves, this is an adjustment for all of us. I, for one LOVE that my kids have these whole other worlds outside of me and our home…they have friends and experiences and interactions that I know nothing about, and that has all come to a screeching halt. That person who does stuff without you still exists, and they are currently without an outlet. They’re figuring it out too, so be patient. And also, be patient with yourself because you’re probably feeling this too.

Patience, compassion, and engagement…those are the goals for my house!

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Lauren Schwarzfeld was born and raised in Yorktown, and aside from college in Boston and a few months living in New York City, she has spent her entire life in Westchester. She has lived in Mt Kisco with her husband Karl since 2006, where they have three kids, Mia (2008), Jacob (2009), Abigail (2012), and two dogs, Edna (a four-year-old beagle) and Felix (a one-year-old pitbull-lab mix). Lauren is a writer, coach, and leader in community engagement. She helps women rediscover their strengths, passion, and confidence to reclaim their spot in their life and step outside the box of perceived expectations. Her goal is for women to create a future that is authentically and unapologetically their own. As the Chief Operating Officer at (914) Cares, a local non-profit, she combines her business background with a passion for volunteer work and desire to care for the community around her. Connect with Lauren on Facebook or through her website!