Principal Offers Unexpected Advice to Parents During School Closures

Principal Offers Unexpected Advice on Parents Homeschooling During School Shutdowns

Social media is filled with stressed-out parents suddenly trying to figure out how to work from home, scavenge for toilet paper, homeschool their children and keep their families healthy all at once. Actress Kristen Bell posted a letter from a principal on Instagram with an interesting perspective that might ease some parents’ anxiety. The principal’s advice on homeschooling your children during the COVID-19 lockdown? Don’t.

“My advice for any parents wanting to homeschool during the school shutdown – don’t. It’s going to be stressful. If things get worse you’re going to be stressed, your kids are going to be stressed. Your kids might be scared of things they’ve heard or seen on TV. Arguing with kids to do work is not what anyone needs right now.

Instead, cuddle up together and read, read, read. Take turns reading. Read them your favorite novel (yes, you can read novels to kindergarten age kids). Do a puzzle. Build a fort. Bake. Watch TV together. Paint. Get out the Legos and build together. Set up a tent in your living room and camp out. Look at photos of when you were a kid. In other words, don’t stress about them forgetting. Don’t stress about homeschooling them. Just spend time together. Your kids won’t learn much if they’re feeling stressed. Though this is a scary time, it could very well be a time they remember as the best time in their life.” 

This goes along with Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, which says learning can’t occur unless basic needs are first met. These needs include food, water, shelter, warmth and sleep, as well as feeling safe, secure and loved.  COVID-19 has shaken the safety and security of a whole lot of adults. Many parents are worried about how they’re going to continue providing basic needs for their families if they can’t go to work.

Kids pick up on that stress. They’re worried, too. They’ve had their worlds turned upside down. Most students left school one afternoon thinking they’d be back the next day and now they’ve been home for weeks. They’re out of their routines, missing their teachers and friends and trying to make sense of all the craziness buzzing around them. 

So it’s okay to not construct the perfect homeschool scenario right now. No effective learning will happen if you and your kids are scared and stressed. There will be tears, yelling and frustration. Take a deep breath and focus on fulfilling basic needs and helping them feel safe and secure instead. 

This doesn’t mean ignore the recommendations and requirements your child’s school has sent. Some schools are holding virtual classes or have sent assignment lists. Other schools are still trying to figure out the best way to handle the situation. So, yes, do what you can, but there’s no need to try to turn your home into a regimented school zone from 9 – 3 each day. That’s just not a necessary battle to take on during this stressful and uncertain time. 

None of us have ever been in a situation like this. We’re all navigating unchartered territory that keeps changing before we can find a solid place to stand. No one knows when the COVID-19 school shutdowns will end. Patience, gentleness and empathy are crucial right now – with the school administration, with teachers, with our children, with ourselves as parents. Kids aren’t going to forget everything they’ve learned because they can’t sit in a classroom right now. Their academic success doesn’t depend on parents suddenly becoming the perfect homeschool teachers.  One parent tweeted she shifted her mindset from homeschooling to home learning and it made a huge difference. When she wasn’t focused on running the perfect homeschool, she realized learning happens in many ways, including her children teaching her new skills. 

Of course, it’s okay to practice spelling words, print out math worksheets or watch history documentaries. But also sleep in, take naps, cook healthy and yummy food, go on walks, dance, do crafts, read, talk and be playful together. When you do those things, you’ll be amazed at how much learning happens naturally. Kids who have had their basic and security needs met during the school shutdown will be calm and eager to learn when schools open up. 

So don’t put so much pressure on yourself – or your kids. Do schoolwork when you can in a way that works for your family. But don’t worry about perfection. Read the message from the principal Kristen Bell shared whenever you start feeling overwhelmed and worried you aren’t doing enough to teach your kids at home. Use it as a permission slip to focus on creating an environment of warmth, security, and love for your family. It’s what we all need most right now. 

Also Read:

Principal Offers Unexpected Advice on Parents Homeschooling During School Shutdowns

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Rachael Moshman
Rachael Moshman, M.Ed., an editor at Bored Teachers, is a mom, educator, writer, and advocate for self-confidence. She's been a teacher in classrooms of infants through adult college students. She loves pizza, Netflix and yoga. Connect with her at rachael.m@boredteachers.com
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