We Are Not Homeschooling…

So we are in week 4 of staying home in our pajamas all day, of our school closure here and I have single-handedly supported the economy through my purchase of an entire wardrobe made up of all things stretchy. You’re welcome, economy.

Like most of you, I have spent a disproportionate amount of time staring at a screen and scrolling through news articles that make me flip flop between panic and rage. When I can’t take the news any longer, I switch over to my social media feeds, hoping for a quick pick me up in the form of a funny kitten video or, when I’m desperate, an Instagram post that might motivate me to clean out my pantry and reorganize its contents in rainbow order. You know, the important things.

Instead, I feel bombarded by posts from parents talking about “homeschooling” their children. These parents typically fall into two camps. There are the Humble Braggers and the Hide-In-the-Closet-Until-This-Is-Over-Because-This-Is Hard Folks. I have been both of these parents. So it is with love in my heart that I proclaim the following….To the Humble Braggers I say, “Tone it down” and then secretly imagine that while they are single handedly teaching their children a new language, that their living room looks like a war zone. To the Closet Folks, I say “We get it. You’re stressed. Now get your sh*t together and try again.” I know, I’m judge-y. These last few weeks has been a roller coaster.

Regardless of the kind of parent you feel like today, hear this: WE ARE NOT HOMESCHOOLING.

Homeschoolers are people who make a conscious decision to pull their children out of more formal schooling because they are nuts believe there is a different way. Most homeschoolers make this decision after careful consideration. It is a choice that these families enter into willingly.

We are crisis schooling. We did not choose this. And by we, I mean both parents and teachers. We were not given time to carefully consider this shift, nor were we given a tremendous amount of time to consider how we might manage it. Forget about thriving; this is all about survival.

The crisis is we have to explain a global health crisis to young children without making them fear the world around them. The crisis is we have to find ways to make sure our kids are learning and that we are still productive all while obsessively washing our hands. The crisis is that we have to set our alarms for 3 a.m. to secure a delivery time slot for wine groceries and then spend roughly 2.5 hours disinfecting the groceries when they arrive. All with a smile on our face. Because it’s going to all be okay, sweetheart, now go do your math assignment while mommy bleaches the milk carton, mmmkay?

In my heart of hearts, I am a nerd. I am a teacher. Over my career, I have learned how to watch children as they engage in work and use my observations to make decisions about what comes next for them. I believe in holding up their strengths and using these as building blocks for growth. I believe in letting students have a voice and choice in their learning. I believe in intentionally inviting engagement into the classroom with these values. And, not to toot my own horn, but I can actually do these things too. In a classroom. With other people’s children.

One of the hardest lessons I have come to learn in these last few weeks is that while I am a teacher, I am not their teacher. I am their mother. And because I am their mother, our “classroom” (which is really my office…and is now in shambles) will be filled with fart jokes and constant pleas for another snack. (Seriously, what’s with all the snacking?) I can see their strengths, but I feel panic as I begin to really understand how far they have to go. I am proud of them, but also want to scream when they whine about getting one sentence down on the page.

This experience has brought with it challenges I never imagined tackling as a parent or as a teacher. It has forced the four of us to find new spaces of possibility in our relationship and, when it’s working, I feel proud of us.

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  • Cricket

    Amen on the I am their mother, not their teacher. Turns out you can’t just flick a switch and change identities. This week has been the roughest in terms of the getting down one sentence, but yes, will be at the desks again tomorrow. Godspeed, my friend. xoxo

    April 8, 2020 at 4:13 pm
  • Megan Proto

    Your words never fail to inspire me…and make me laugh! You got this, momma/teacher!!!

    April 9, 2020 at 8:08 pm
  • Michelle Wittko

    Hi Mimi,
    I agree 100 percent. Homeschooling is seriously making me crazy… I can’t tell my son anything about his writing or revising and when he hands in a crap narrative- the teachers provides general feedback- great job. What? That story was trash… but then he says well my teacher liked my story… Ugh…

    April 24, 2020 at 5:34 pm

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