Written by Elizabeth Perlaki
Are you a mom who suddenly took on the new role of a teacher? Are you feeling stressed out by trying to manage everyone’s learning on top of your normal responsibilities? Are you still working, or working overtime, and don’t know how to get it all done? Are you worried that you’re going to fail your child?
Guess what…you’re not alone!
While I’m not a mother myself, I have many friends who are and are posting things on Facebook, and I’ve spoken to over 20 moms by phone in the past week. I’ve heard so many different emotions and I’m feeling them with you. So if I’m not a mom, why does my opinion matter? Well, my name is Elizabeth and I’ve been a teacher for 10 years. While I’ve taught kindergarten through eighth grade, the past four years I’ve settled into teaching first grade and I love it! So while I don’t know exactly how you feel, I have heard all the worries and am taking on a new role myself as a virtual teacher.
At the beginning of every school year, I tell the families in my class that you, the parent, are your child’s first and most important teacher! Being a teacher is nothing new for you. You’ve taught your child life skills from the day he/she was born. You teach your child how to clean, how to cook and play sports, how to tie shoes and zip coats. You’ve helped with homework numerous times. You got this! Teaching is not new to you, it’s just taking a different form.
Also, remember that you are not in this alone. Nearly every parent in the entire country (and many across the world) is going through the same thing right now. All children in Michigan will be losing several months of learning, they will move on to the next grade, and the teachers next year will make sure they teach them what they need to know. As teachers, we are trained in teaching classes with kids at a large range of ability levels, and next year will be no different. Would I love every child to come into my class in the fall without missing a beat? Of course! But that’s not the world’s reality right now. This is bigger than all of us and we will all do our part to help our kids. Yes, educators will probably have a tougher job in the fall than most years, but that’s what all of our schooling and training was for. Now, I wouldn’t say just sit back and take a five-month vacation because the teachers have it handled, but as I always tell the kids, “do the best you can,” and we will be there to help support you.
You don’t have to be the supermom you see on Facebook with fancywork areas and all the supplies in the world, you just have to love your kid and do what is in your realm of possibilities. You will not fail your child by not being the perfect homeschool teacher; this is new to you and you can’t expect perfection. Start by having your child do the work that is provided by his/her teacher and go from there. Right now, there are hundreds of free resources available online that you can use too, but most importantly, spend as much time with your child as you can!
Obviously, your child’s age plays a role in what you do together, but your child can learn so many skills without the Internet. For high school students, teach your child how to write a check and practice cooking skills so your senior won’t have to eat ramen noodles every day in college next year. With little kids, play with Playdough, draw pictures, write stories, become engineers by building structures with empty food boxes, and be creative. Help your child develop oral language skills by talking about what they are making, and develop their writing skills by writing about their creations. If you have older and younger kids, have the older kids teach the younger ones. For kids of all ages you can read together, play board and card games, take walks and talk about life, plant and tend to a garden, bake and cook, and have fun doing it!
When thinking about a daily schedule, include time for schoolwork, cooking, physical activities, fun, and God time. All people, no matter their age, do best with a consistent routine and knowing what is expected. Creating a daily routine so that your family has structure during this highly unstructured time of life will set the right tone at home so that when it’s time to do school work, your child knows what is expected.
And to those of you who are still working to help make our community function, thank you! While you won’t be able to do as much as other moms at your own home, you are making a difference in our world and that is needed too. I’m sure you’re exhausted and worn out and no one will blame you for not keeping up with it all. Use this experience to teach your child that the world is bigger than your family unit and that God wants us to put others above ourselves and to love our neighbors. You are doing God’s work by getting out there each day so that you can help the world and put food on the table for your family.
Remember, you’re an amazing mother when you do the best you are able to do with your family. No one is perfect and no one can do it all. You have been teaching your child since the day he/she was born and you are prepared for this. Don’t worry about the fall and your child being the only one who didn’t learn something, that’s when teachers will take over again and help fill in the gaps using all the training they have received. Everyone is in the same boat, out on rough waters right now. Take it one day at a time, and don’t forget to enjoy the extra time God is giving you with your family!
“The joy of the Lord is your strength.” –Nehemiah 8:10