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We’ve all just entered a new normal. Some 44 states in the U.S. have announced school closings for weeks or months to limit the spread of the coronavirus. And the United Nations reports that schools have been closed in 156 countries – keeping over 1.4 billion students out of classes. That’s 82 percent of the enrolled students in the world.
Here in the U.S., parents have been thrust into a new world of self-isolating, social distancing and home educating.
Last week, we were laughing about “welcome to the club” memes from homeschooling families. This week, it’s sinking in that these children are going to be home for some time.
It’s not that we lack resources. Within days of the children heading home, the Internet was fairly bursting with sample schedules, free subscriptions to educational websites, virtual field trips, and even art lessons with acclaimed artists.
And while some parents seem to be rising to the challenge with saint-like resilience and strength — already having their kids on an enriching schedule of academics, play and creativity — I am not one of them. Here I am with more than I need to educate my three school-aged kids, but I’m struggling to do it.
In fact, during the latter days of last week, my children mostly watched toy videos on YouTube and consumed snacks, while I tried to clear the brain fog caused by the life-altering changes happening on an hourly basis.
As the global landscape has been shifting at breakneck speed, I feel like I’ve been in survival mode. And the truth is, I have. All of us have. We share a unified goal of flattening the curve, which means submitting to drastic lifestyle changes. We’re staying home, doing school with our kids, washing our hands more, and chatting with our neighbors from across the street.
None of us has done something like this before, and it’s OK to not feel OK. In the wake of unprecedented cultural change, there will be a period of adjustment. And that adjustment will take longer for some than for others.
I’m sure the resources will continue to pour in. But just because they’re out there doesn’t mean you have to use them all. Just because other parents are finding success with certain tools, doesn’t mean you have to do so. Getting through this crisis is going to require a sustainable plan — and that will look different for each family.
Our children can catch up academically. They are resilient like that. So take a deep breath, simplify, and focus on the things that make your family life work. For some, that will mean long walks in nature. For others, it will mean lots of daily art time or movie-watching or cooking. Others will opt to start each day with family devotions and prayer. We will find our rhythms. I promise. And when we do, we’ll see how strong we really are.