One of the greatest burden and gift of living through this pandemic is homeschooling. It’s a burden. Simple. Ask any mother currently homeschooling any child and they will list all the burden. For me, my list is long, but I’ll spare you the trouble and focus on one-Attention. Attention is difficult for a six year old especially through a technology we restrict for play but allow for education. Attention is also hard for an 8 year old especially when siblings in the next room are crying because they loathe math or reading or even science via Zoom. Then there is the 3 year for whom attention is very minimal at this age. Attention for him is a chore especially when it comes to watching any school related materials on Zoom or remembering sight words he read out loud less than a minute ago. Like I stated above, homeschooling and it’s insistence on focused attention from children is burdensome.
But learning, all forms of learning that has occurred during this period of schooling at home is one of the greatest gifts my family and I have received as a result of this global pandemic. Learning for us is a gift, part of our natural existence not restricted by any curriculum or any agenda. Not a forced activity imposed by any professional or occurring in isolated spaces. Learning, unapologetically realized, recognized, is done everyday at home, insides spaces without walls, through lens never needing to be closed, from the pirate stories, to astronaut goals or even scary mummies all for example, for Halloween celebrations yesterday. Learning for my six year old for example, occurs through interactions with his siblings on a daily basis, something formal education would have restricted or curtailed by now. For him, it’s in the way he politely asks for his turn. That’s all. Interaction is a big developmental task for him and the opportunity to learn at home has instilled asking politely for his turn with a laptop, a book, even the last piece of chicken on the table. He politely asks before proceeding to do anything.
For my 3rd grader, learning is expressive. Like the way she draws everything for every occasion like Halloween yesterday, a black cat and jack-o-lantern. Or the way she took a short story she wrote and made it into a chapter book, now with 12 chapters and counting. But as if that’s not all, learning, especially our poetry sessions once a week is about normalizing the mistakes she makes with reading poetry, repeating the process over and over, despite whatever setbacks she feels, until she becomes comfortable, even confident with the words and her understanding of the power of language. For my junior kindergartener (also for his brother and sister) learning occurs within a complex network of people, places, nature, and things. Like with our Sunday walk around the amazing Forest Park in search of the Dinosaur Park (will make a keep story of this soon) or with making leaf man out of dry leaves he picks along our walks during this glorious Fall season. Learning is everywhere, something he does everyday, without any curriculum, just part of his daily living.
These are the gifts homeschooling has given to my family. Learning for us is part of our DNA, fundamentally connected to our everyday existence. Beyond this pandemic, I intend to do my part to keep affirming my children’s learning in this way.