Updated: Mar 1, 2021
We are approaching the one year anniversary of quarantine for COVID-19, home schooling and life as we knew it before March 2020. Did we make it there yet? And, honestly, where is 'there' anyway these days?
To the parents and educators reading this, congratulations - you have conquered unknown territory with flying colors - everybody receives a winner's trophy - you did not sign up for this and somehow you handled what life threw at you and your family.
To the students out there - you rock. Seriously. I am in awe of how amazingly adaptable you are. You took a bucket full of lemons and made lemonade. Keep turning it up and being you!
How we can continue to navigate this ever-changing landscape in academics for our children? Schools are s-l-o-w-l-y opening across the nation. When they open for your district - what is your plan?
Five Targets for Families to Find Success I say target rather than goal, to avoid feeling as if you failed; should you not hit the bullseye. When you narrow a task to one specific outcome, (i.e. goal) and do not accomplish the task, you limit what else is possible as a success. Sometimes mistakes get us to where we need to be on the target.
1.) Every day is an opportunity to try something new and different. Approaching life as an adventure to be explored creates a sense of fun. If the school schedule is wonky, how will you approach it? Being frustrated is completely understandable. Being flexible is probably a better idea. When your student sees you upset/angry with the school constantly changing the plan, they take this on themselves as blame. You wouldn't be upset if you didn't have kids who were in school. (Their thinking, not ours!) Kids often mirror parents, so how can you present this frustrating circumstance? Laugh while figuring out the changes and ask your student to be a part of the solution. When kids have an opportunity to participate in change, they are empowered and will work with you to figure it out.
2.) Reminder routines are a guideline, not the law. With all of the changes going on, allow space in the family calendar to adjust who is doing what, when, where and how. Kids will forget to log onto Zoom at 2pm for class if they are in school some days and at home others. Help them figure out a system for themselves to remember things. A sticky note board? A wipe-off calendar on the wall? A good old-fashioned note pad? Appointment alerts on the phone? What works for you may not work for them. Ask your student how they would like to remember their task. And, if they miss an assignment, a class or they forget their lunch...let them figure it out. Ask how you can support them and allow them to advocate for themselves to build confidence and the ability to roll with things.
3.) Read the instructions. Read the instructions, again. We've all done it. We read an email quickly then we do not take action and the email gets lost in the sea of correspondence that lands in our inbox daily. We read and dismiss things if they are not immediate to our day. Instead, after the first read, ask - what are you supposed to do and when is it due? Read again, this time looking for content and context. If there is a due date associated with the assignment, task, or ask - immediately write that date down in your calendar, or write on a sticky note or put into your phone's calendar so it beeps at you. This eliminates the bubble-up feeling of overwhelm that there is just too much to going on to handle.
4.) Use the 'minute-to-win-it' rule. Does the ask take only a minute or two? THEN JUST DO IT. It will take you longer to write a note to yourself to finish it later. Academically, students often work hard to complete an assignment, then they forget to save it or send it. Or, they put off an assignment, forgetting to do it; creating lots of drama, in addition to a possible zero or a discounted grade for lateness. As a parent, practice this minute ideology with chores. Does the garbage need to go out? Does the laundry need transferring from the washer to the dryer? Do you need to brush your teeth/wash your hands/use the toilet? No need to schedule that into your calendar. It's the same principle.
5.)What you say becomes your reality. This is the number one, easy peasy shift anyone can make to eliminate stress, anxiety, overwhelm, frustration and upset. With all of the daily opportunities to navigate change, try using positive language. For example, you are upset about the school changing the schedule. (Again!) You can choose to say, "Ugh, this school is driving me bananas!" Or, you can choose to say, "Ok, what's good about today's schedule change?" When your student sees you handle things from a place of question and gratitude, they will follow suit. And, chances are in this example, you'll see that the schedule change actually worked out for the best because something else shifted in your ever-evolving day. An attitude of gratitude will get you through the day.
So, are we there yet? What if each day was your new adventure no matter what was going on in the world or at school or at work or in your kitchen? Arthur Ashe famously said, "Success is a journey, not a destination." Our children are on a topsy-turvy roller-coaster right now. Be with them, laugh with them, allow them to make mistakes and see where we all land when the ride stops.