In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, our world has changed in drastic measures nearly overnight. Feelings of fear, overwhelm, stress, and anxiety are real. Not only are we concerned about the health and safety of our own families, but we are also concerned about the well-being and livelihood of our greater society. And for those of you who do not homeschool already, the news of having schools close came as yet another shock only to have more anxiety and even panic set in. You may be left wondering what am I going to do with my children at home all day? How will I teach them so that they don’t fall behind? But, what if you re-frame this new homeschool lifestyle as instead an invitation to check in with yourself and your children? What if you look at this as a chance to catch up (not fall behind), reconnect, find joy, learn, and grow in the most slow, simple, and natural ways of life?
What families and especially children need most right now is a safe haven. A space where they can feel loved, secure, worthy, and accepted for who they are as they are. In the coming days and weeks work on helping one another find and settle into a new rhythm of the day that will work for your family. Don’t feel as though you have to create a strict schedule or structure for the sake of learning. Don’t feel as though you have to replicate the lessons, assessments, and activities that school teachers provide. Instead, offer your children freedoms to find new comforts in their home and in you, their parents. And instead of scrambling to fill the time with “school work” or educational activities, let the time evolve through a lens of connection, love, and acceptance. Hold space for figuring out a daily flow that works for your family. Children need play, time, and flexibility. And if you want them to learn, they need to feel safe because children cannot learn when there is too much stress in the environment anyway. Invite them to share in your daily activities from folding laundry, sending emails, cooking, cleaning, and more. Fill your days with games, stories, music, art, laughter, walks, eating, and lying in the sun or rain sharing books, jokes, and dreams. Focus on family, togetherness, and present moments instead of school work and you’ll find that the learning comes naturally and authentically. Children’s play, curiosity, and creativity can turn into non-stop learning experiences quite naturally!
I hope you can find these tips useful for creating and holding space that naturally supports learning.
- Reading opens up an entire world of learning not to mention the connection and bond that forms as you sit or lay close to your beloveds. Let your children be the guide in selecting some books of their choice and take opportunities to use the books as conversation or personal story starters. Take turns reading or try audiobooks from Spotify or Audible when you’re looking for a change of pace.
- Constructive play through legos, blocks. tinker toys, gears, magna tiles, art supplies, sticks, wood, and even words. It is part of our biological, instinctual nature to build for survival. We can build shelters, tools, devices, machines that help us perform the tasks we need to adapt and persevere. Provide your children with the resources and freedom to create what they imagine in their minds through constructive play.
- Nature is nurturing. It provides the best context for learning, growth, and well being. Go in your backyard and become an explorer, scientist, artist, architect, builder, and more!
- Play card games, dice, bake, or play board games with money so that your children are exposed to the role of numeracy skills in meaningful situations.
- Create an environment to support downtime during the day where your children can soak in some quiet moments of reflection, daydreaming, and calm. Be sure to give your children opportunities to engage in private time but don’t hesitate to initiate this valuable downtime with cuddles on the couch gazing out the window, flipping through a book, or listening to relaxing music.