Our world has become the plot of a science fiction movie and it won’t improve anytime soon. Reading between the lines, there’s probably going to be no school until fall. However, the education of our young children need not be among the many things we’re worrying about just now.
Humans are incredibly adaptable. Young children even more so. They can handle almost anything that is thrown at them and blossom from it. This is a time to connect deeply as a family, so take advantage of circumstance: put away your phone and close that laptop. Take your kids on a walk through a quiet wood, talk with them as long as they want to talk, snuggle as long as they want to snuggle, put their favorite song on repeat, let them prepare a meal beside you, play the game they’ve invented with them, and encourage them to take on new challenges and responsibilities—but let them do it in their own way.
You might be feeling pressure to transform home into school by creating schedules, perhaps even with incentives for worksheet or project completion. Consider a different approach. Observe them at play rather than fighting over math. Let them take the time they need to adapt to this new normal and don’t worry about them falling behind in school. We’re all in the same boat. How little ones feel during these weeks or months will be far more impactful than the incomplete schoolwork.
There’s a silver lining in the mess of this pandemic… Children of any age can get overburdened between school time and homework. They often have limited freedom to just discover what they love, who they are, and how to solve problems without adult direction. Studies have shown that when children read for fun or solve real life problems, they acquire skills in ways that will be remembered. So, go ahead—let them play and explore. It’s OK!
Being present with your children means getting to know them. Read great books out loud to each other, teach them a game you loved as a child or maybe learn your older child’s favorite computer game (it’s not so scary). Embracing this time of togetherness as a family and allowing our children to be children will help them create memories they’ll carry with them forever.
Caroline Wolf, BEd, LL.L, LL.B
Ontario teacher with C.E.P.E.O (Conseil des écoles publique de l’est de l’Ontario)