It’s hard to believe that it’s been nearly seven months since schools began to end in-person learning due to COVID-19. Most of us did not expect to end the school year virtually, and we certainly didn’t want to begin the 2020-2021 school year at home. But here we are. Back in April, the topic of being a “parent teacher” was shared as that was new territory for the vast majority of us, at least to this level, and it was full of optimism that we could all cope and take on this new role with the understanding that this was simply temporary. This does not feel temporary anymore! Many school system have announced virtual learning for the entire school year. Some students across our nation are doing online and reduced in-person learning, some are planning to start in person learning in January but with CDC warnings of a second wave coupled with flu season I’m sure that will be unlikely. We don’t play politics with our children. Schools are not ready to open for various reasons.
Like all difficult challenges and crises, I believe in regrouping and re-strategizing! What we hoped was temporary is proving to be more long-term. So now what? How do you manage work, quality time, and homeschooling without losing your sanity? We have not had vacations!! And there is no clear, cookie cutter path to balancing it all. You will have to do what works for you. However, I am hopeful that the following convictions will help all of us excel as both parents and teachers.
You are enough
One of the first rules of parenting is to take care of yourself first. This is not a selfish act. If you want to be the cornerstone of your family and the activist for your children’s needs, you need to be on your “A” game. This means removing doubt and remove any judging of yourself. This means mental health checks for yourself! This means taking time for yourself guilt-free. This means acknowledging that even without a day of educator training or a fancy degree that no one is more dedicated to your child than you are. There is no other approval they seek more than your own. There is no one on the planet that believes in them more than you. You are more than enough! Believe that.
First you are a parent
In life we balance several roles and wear many hats. Our priorities are always shifting. But parenthood does not allow us to remove that particular “hat.” We may do it all, but we are still parents first. As a parent teacher you are a mother or father before you are an educator. This means you still must meet their emotional needs, disciplinary needs, and protect your bond in a way a teacher could never be able to fully do. You have teacher duties I get it! Do your best and follow the schedule, teach or re-teach the assignment, give them the tools they need to succeed, check homework and class work, etc. But as a parent notice when they struggle with online learning or increased workloads. Know when they need a break…even when other virtual students don’t. Too much screen time is not productive or healthy for anyone. Know when they require a different pace or a different teaching style. These queues will always be better picked up on by you as the parent because no one knows your child better than you do.
Their needs deserve to be addressed
We must never neglect the emotional toll that quarantining and an abrupt disruption of their schedules and activities has on a child. Us too! Again, we have not had a vacation – yes, that is a recurring theme. Yes, our children are resilient but that does not mean they don’t have needs that need to be addressed. We can’t dismiss anxiety, whining, crying, mood changes, or lack of focus as being lazy or undisciplined. We have no idea how this is all impacting them. They need our conversations and patience right now more than ever!
Asking for help is not a sign of weakness
You may have the ability to do it all, but it doesn’t mean you have to be that Superwoman or Superman all of the time. Asking for help is more than okay. It’s okay to not be okay. If you need help with technology access, contact your child’s school administrators. If you need extensions for assignments, contact the teacher. If you are concerned with your child’s mental health and well-being, contact their school counselor, or pastor, or trusted friend. If you need to work and have to skip a lesson(s), reach out to other parents to discuss learning hubs or shared tutors. A support group is healthy! Ask and receive! We have to be in this together.
I said it before, and I mean it- this too shall pass. Even if it’s much longer than we anticipated, it can’t rain forever and you, the parent teacher are capable of excelling in this moment!