Under any other circumstances, teachers look forward to Spring Break just as much as their students. This time felt different. I knew there was a chance, a good possibility, that we would be extending that break. At first, it was just a couple weeks. “Okay, I can come up with some activities to keep the kids busy, but I’m not gonna push it. A few extra episodes of Elena of Avalor or – God forbid – Stinky and Dirty won’t hurt. I got this.” But then the news came that we all were waiting for: Stay home with your kids FOREVER!
Just kidding. They didn’t say that. But I’d be lying if I said it didn’t feel that way to me.
Here’s the thing: I’m an educator. It’s what I love and I like to think I’m pretty good at my job! I’ve taught a smattering of grades, mostly early childhood, and Special Ed. I know a thing or two about differentiated instruction and meeting students where they are with a goal and plan of where we’re going. I currently teach Pre-Kindergarten at a local church’s Early Childhood Program, and it is my dream job! I also have three kids of my own, who range from preschool to Kinder themselves. So it would stand to reason that I’m fully capable of teaching them what they need to know. After all, it’s my wheelhouse.
But they don’t want me to be their teacher. And to be frank, I don’t want to be their teacher either! It’s no stretch of the imagination to believe that children act differently for their moms and teachers. I had very little trouble getting my classroom students to follow directions the first time they were given, in a reasonable amount of time, and without complaint. My own three monsters – I mean – kids, who I know were well-behaved for their teachers, fight me at every turn! This is not the “classroom community” I was going for here, kids.
Is it 5 o’clock yet?
I should also mention – my kids miss their friends and so do I! They miss their teachers, and so do I!
I miss the laughter and songs and routine of the classroom. I know my own kids thrived in a school environment, so to have it abruptly taken from them due to a pandemic seems so unjust! I believe kids are intuitive enough to know when something is serious, and my own children have honestly taken the news graciously. But it doesn’t mean this isn’t hard for all of us! Especially teachers! I wasn’t ready for school to be over. To say goodbye.
The bottom line is that while all of us were thrust into this homeschool life, some of us are feeling the heartbreak of the classes we left unfinished and navigating the waters of teaching our own children in ways both they and we aren’t used to.
It’s going to take some time to establish a rhythm; just think of it as hitting reset on a school year! Get to know your students 😉 and find out what they want to learn! Then find books you already have and videos on YouTube about that subject (P.S. YouTube also has wonderful read-alouds of all kinds of books!). Head to Pinterest for low-to-no prep activities and crafts, even for older students. It gets a bad wrap these days, but being a Pinterest mom is saving my life right now. Well, that and Wild Kratts. Bake something in the kitchen! That ticks so many boxes academically, and you get something yummy at the end of the lesson!
As a teacher speaking to a parent (including my OWN self!) the most important thing is to keep learning fun! Read books, play outside, learn new games, and keep creativity at the forefront. Keep your expectations low and enjoy the extra time with your kids. It also will serve our children well to be BORED once in a while, so don’t feel like you need to fill the day with things for them to do! It’s totally okay for you to hide in your bathtub with some cheese and wine while your kids come up with their own fun! Not that I’m speaking from experience.
Let’s just all take a deep breath and recognize that what we are doing is hard. Teacher moms everywhere are trying to figure out how to shift gears and educate at and from home! But we will get through this. Better still, we will learn and grow with our kids! And we will be better, together, for it.