When the COVID-19 crisis first began earlier this year, I had zero idea our city would be placed under “shelter in place” restrictions and school closures by mid-March. But yet, here we are. And honestly, I am okay with it. If it’s what we need to do in order to flatten the curve, sign me up.
Staying at home was fine at first. We ate lots of home-cooked dinners, played board games, and spent good, quality family time together. No rushing in the door, only to turn around and rush back out somewhere else 10 minutes later.
It’s a nice break from the daily grind. I can do this. This won’t be so bad. We got this! Even our middle child, who is on the autism spectrum, was enjoying his time away from school and the slower pace of our day.
Then we added my husband working his IT job from home, distance learning for all three of our kids, and me, a second grade teacher, trying to teach my class from my dining room table. Distance learning no longer seemed appropriate, so we switched to the term “crisis schooling.”
It took us a week or so to correct our course, but we did. We found our rhythm to a new normal. We are taking it day by day and adjusting when needed. It is safe to say I have definitely learned a few things in the process that has helped save our sanity during this unprecedented times in our lives.
Get on a Schedule
Yes, I know it sounds like a no-brainer, but it took this veteran teacher of 20-plus years and a week’s worth of “chaos” to remember this important step. Kids, in general, thrive on structure. Kids on the spectrum demand structure and routine.
Our quirky kid is now in seventh grade. He has more than six teachers and is used to transitioning from room to room every 45 minutes. Sitting at my kitchen table for a two-hour stretch did no good for any of us. His schedule doesn’t look like the typical 13 year old. And that is okay. Make a schedule that reflects the needs of your child. It will make your entire house much more peaceful in the process.
Expect Bumps in the Road
There will be days when everything goes as planned and there will be days when every 30-minute block of time can be a battle. Some days it’s all I can do to get my son to log in to his coursework — forget about doing any work. Then other times, he would work so long, without a fuss, that he even surprised himself. Take the good and the bad as they come. Celebrate those grand days with the enthusiasm of a Super Bowl win. You deserve it because we all know how exhausting those “not so good” days can be.
Reach Out to the Special Education Support Team at School
As a mother, you know your child better than anyone. But do you know the ins and outs of his or her day at school? Educators are the ones that help kids navigate from class to class and teacher to teacher on a daily basis. It took me less than two days into our “crisis schooling” to email my son’s special education teacher and counselor with an SOS. By the next week, we had a working schedule and had and weekly “virtual” therapy sessions with his counselor. It was and is definitely a team effort!
This one has been the hardest for me to do while trying to work from home and “crisis school” my quirky kid. Nothing we do follows the norm. And that is okay. It is what makes him, well, “him.”
However, when I am in the middle of a “virtual” faculty meeting and he wants to debate the literal meaning of the directions, or better yet, CORRECT the teacher’s grammar, it makes things that much more stressful for this teacher momma. Now, I do everything I can to NOT schedule a meeting during his “school” time. It has made my day, and his, much more enjoyable.
He really is a funny kid, in a good way. It is neat to sit and listen to how his mind processes things compared to other kids. His point of view is always the one that seems to come out of left field but relates perfectly to the situation at hand.
Memories over Mastery of Skills
Every parent out there wants his or her child to learn and do well in school. An education is important, no one is disputing this one bit. However, no matter who you are or how hard you try, you will never replicate your child’s day at school while we are all hunkered down to “flatten the curve.”
Try your best to get your child to work to his or her potential. If it is a battle, then take a step back from the coursework. A battling child isn’t learning anything and the parent battling back becomes beyond frustrated.
Every kid learns differently. Our quirky kids may require a different approach to learn the same material. If things are getting heated over the work, try looking at it from a different angle. Often, my son’s frustrations with his work and me trying to help him is that I am not viewing the lesson through his perspective. Once we each explain ourselves, we realized that we are “nearly” on the same page and we move on. I want him to look back at this time in his childhood with a fond memory.
Extra time spent with family is always a gift, even in the midst of “crisis schooling” during a pandemic. Treasure it, always.