Pivot, Pivot, Pivoooot: Guiding Your Children’s Education During a Pandemic
You may have never considered home education, but now as you listen to the Center for Disease Control’s recommendations for the fall you are finding yourself thinking about it. For some of you, you are never going to home school because you are a single parent, working parent, or just do not have this as a vision for your family.
Hear me on this – that’s ok.
I outsourced many aspects of my children’s education – piano, basketball, Spanish etc. It is ok to hire someone to educate our children. We are ultimately responsible for their spiritual, emotional, intellectual, and physical education. We can not outsource our responsibility, but we absolutely can and should enlist the best people we can find to help us with this huge responsibility.
No matter where you see yourself in this range of decisions, it will help you to be reflective and consider what this pandemic means for your family. All of us have different circumstances, but we are all facing an uncertain future that is causing us some level of stress. Let’s be gentle with each other as we decide what is best for our families.
If you have not yet seen the episode of Friends where Ross gets Chandler and Rachel to carry a very large couch up a few flights of stairs, then you should go immediately to your computer and find it and watch it. Trust me. It will make you belly laugh, and you need to laugh right now.
You need to laugh to build neurotransmitters. You need to laugh to deal with the fact that you are going to need to pivot in the middle of a crisis. Even though any counselor will tell you you should not make a decision in a crisis, you are going to need to make a decision about one of the things you care about most – your children’s education. And you will need to make that decision in the middle of a pandemic. (For those that are literal – the couch is the pandemic and the pivot is how you will educate your children. You’re welcome!)
All the home schooling parents throughout the world are feeling it for you. We made the very big decision to home educate and we know all that went into that decision. So please take a minute to breathe and laugh and cry. This is hard.
You are carrying a very large couch up a set of stairs and being asked to “PIVOT”.
So how do you navigate through all the emotions, aka fight or flight?
Self-Care Vs. Procrastination
After you watch the clip from Friends, set a date for when you will need to decide about next year’s plan is for your children’s education. This will allow you the time to take care of your self and protect you from procrastination.
Let me suggest you will need time to make other decisions (what curriculum to buy, what co-ops to consider, facebook groups to join, goals for each child for the year) so you will need time before the first day of school. I recommend deciding before July 1. I know you will not have all the information by then, but you can decide on a plan A and plan B. For example, Plan A is if school does not go back as normal and Plan B is if school does go back as normal.
So now that you set a date. You can tell your brain to focus on the tasks of the day – finishing this year strong and planning a fun summer. You do not have to decide until your decision date.
Write down all your thoughts. Some of you are excited about all this and see it as an adventure. Others are completely overwhelmed. Chances are the person you are married to feels exactly the opposite – great opportunity for a fight! Although fighting does release adrenaline and it can feel really good in the moment, it will not help you to decide what to do nor will it help you in the process of understanding and loving your spouse.
Journaling will help you to do both. Get a notebook and write what is in your brain down on paper.
Now that you wrote it all down, go on a working date (single parent – ask a friend to talk this through with you). You might not be able to go to a restaurant or a coffee bar, but you can put the kids to bed and get your favorite drink and snack. If you have a dry erase board or chalkboard, this will help. Write down pros and cons of each possible educational choice – hybrid, on-line, homeschooling, public or private etc. Write down the needs, strengths, and weaknesses for each of your children. Write down your resources (time, money, energy, people that will help).
Don’t fight. Just write down your different opinions, thoughts and feelings. This is a chance to talk and discuss the options. This is not a time to make a decision or try to persuade the other person.
You will probably discover that each child needs a different plan. Not surprising since they all want something different for dinner. Think of this like planning dinner – you have a certain amount of resources (time, money, energy) to make the best decision you can. You might be able to make different decisions for different kids or you might have to make the best decision based on your resources. Hint: Do not make yourself crazy to make them happy.
You will make no one happy if you are stressed. They are the happiest when you are happy. Because when you are happy, you play, listen, and engage with them in meaningful ways.
Don’t forget to take a picture of your mind map – otherwise your kids might erase it.
Talk with parents that have homeschooled, used a hybrid plan – two or three days in school and the rest at home, utilized on-line schooling, used private school or public school. I would try to talk with or hear from few in each category.
- What has hard about this type of schooling?
- Which philosophy or curriculum/company did you use?
- What would you do for schooling if there were no limits on resources?
- What was beneficial in this type of schooling?
- What should I know or be aware of?
Pray before you pick a date, pray before you journal, and pray before you mind map. In Proverbs we are given a promise that God will direct the steps we commit to Him. Trust and surrender are a huge part of our relationship with our Father. He wants us to trust Him to direct us. So when we “acknowledge” Him in all our ways. We are saying, “I know you care about me and I know you know more than I do about the future. Please show me what I should do.”
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6
Pray and listen. Pray and be still. Pray and be silent. We need to hear from God no matter how we plan to educate our kids because raising them is a huge responsibility we can not do well without Him directing our steps.
If we are distracted by many things then we will not be able to pursue the “one thing that is needed” – being with Jesus (Luke 18:38-42). Our distractions are all about us building our kingdoms and sense of significance, but our time with Jesus helps us to see that living in His kingdom is all about knowing whose we are. We need a constant reminder to pursue Him and His way over our superficial way. By taking the time to slow down and simply sit with Jesus, we are saying we want a life with depth and purpose. Our significance comes through living from a place of knowing whose we are and working from that place of being loved already not earning love. Then it does not matter what you do as much as who you are.
He might have you home school your children or He might have you navigate this season with a public, private, or charter school. Whatever you decide, His ultimate purpose for you and your children is to glorify Him so others might come to know Him and be saved. So although this is a big decision know that as long as you maintain His mission as your vision for your family you will be faithful to your calling as followers of Jesus.
So ask Him which direction He wants you to pivot and listen. As you follow Him, He will direct you and grow your relationship with Him and your family.