That was quite the year, wasn’t it? That 2020 has left quite the impression behind even as it has not entirely abandoned us. While I am not oblivious to the kind of year it has been to millions of people around the world, from a personal standpoint, it has been a year of new beginnings and lessons learned. In a two-part post, I will first discuss homeschooling (here); and then, about how I learned to reinvent myself (next post).
When schools went into lockdown the first time in March 2020, this was such a novel experience – to be schooling at home. My hitherto afternoon schedule of picking up J from the bus stop, bringing him home, making a snack, sitting down for homework, watching some TV, picking up E, and such, was cancelled overnight. One day I was scheduling my volunteering day with J’s primary teacher and the next day, I was seeing the principal greeting students at the front door and reminding me that parents were no longer allowed inside the building. Within a week, all classes stopped. Everything became virtual. Kids suddenly had to wake up to a new reality where they could only see their teacher and friends’ faces on their computer screens once a week.
I was so proud of J to see how well he adapted to this newness that had been thrust upon him. It was as if he had been prepared for this the whole time. He took to technology and virtual learning like he had been doing it his whole life. His calm and confidence saved me much stress and anguish. At the same time, being that I am some version of a “Tiger Mom” I made it my mission to make sure that my child’s education did not lag in any way. We are in one of the best school districts in the city and one of THE best elementary schools and his kindergarten teachers had been absolutely brilliant with him (and the other kids). I wasn’t going to let this non-face-to-face classroom interactions/lessons disadvantage my child.
I say the above with a deep sense of gratitude and an acute awareness of my privilege. I am grateful for the resources I am able to provide my child/children. I am grateful for my education, my station in life, my supportive partner, my healthy and happy kids, and in general grateful for the life I have been gifted. All of these enabled me (and continue to) to give my kids the kind of education they truly deserve despite the challenges. We rose to the situation as it demanded. Of course, we had our fair share of struggles, arguments, tantrums, frustration, and complete breakdowns but that is par for the course. It was just life…just revealing itself in these new, unexpected, and unpredictable situations in which we all found ourselves.
All through summer, I continued doing school work with J, at least an hour or so every day. With E, given that she was only in preschool, I had a lot more flexibility and she usually did her own thing. This personally acquisitioned freedom by E did not often sit well with the kindergartener who often thought his sister was having more fun than him while he slogged away at his books J but such is life.
At the beginning of the school year we stayed with the public school system only to realize that trying to meet someone else’s (teacher’s) expectations while managing a now Pre-K kid was just not going well for us. I was yelling more than usual, there were tears of frustration on both sides, and I simply couldn’t bear to see my child put himself through hours of schoolwork staring at a computer screen. He just didn’t have the attention span to sit through 45 minutes of some woman on a video teaching him about phonics and compound words. For goodness sakes!! I had, had enough. I talked it over with the family, especially J. I told him that I was considering homeschooling him and explained to him what that entailed. He seemed to understand the gravity of it and my commitment toward it in his own way. He even got excited about it.
I registered my school and we officially began homeschooling on October 5th, 2020. We haven’t looked back since then and I haven’t regretted that decision even once. This whole experience has been one of the best decisions I have made for many reasons:
- I get to spend a lot of time with my kids.
- I get to decide exactly what they learn, and how much.
- I get to select topics to suit their interests. For example, J wanted to do a unit on airplanes and we learned everything we could about them and even included math and science related to the topic. My little one wanted to learn about Amelia Earhart and so we all did.
- They get to take a break whenever they need to without getting stressed out over failing grades or falling behind.
- We wake up when our bodies naturally wake up and we get to work after a leisurely breakfast.
- Every wakeful minute is a homeschool lesson should I choose to make it so.
- I have been able to teach kids how to make egg omelets, make meatballs, chapatis, and numerous other things. They are both very comfortable in the kitchen, near the stove, in their use of knives, graters, and so on.
There are numerous other reasons and of course there are the not so good consequences like – among other things, not having the right teacher-trained strategies to teach specific things like writing – how do I motivate my child to write – this has been a big deal for me. I never knew someone could hate writing so much and I feel like if I was a real elementary school teacher, I might perhaps have had the right tools to use to motivate my student/child. Then again, who knows, kids just listen to their teachers better than their parents when it comes to these kinds of matters.
How do I motivate my child to write – this has been a big deal for me.
All said and done, being able to teach my kids has been a great experience for me. When the kids learn something new and are able to apply it to something, I have the immense satisfaction of having played a role in that! When my 4-year-old reads a book by herself, I know I made that happen. When solution to a math problem clicks and J’s face lights up, I know I caused that smile. I am so, so incredibly grateful for being able to do that for my children. Their smiles, the snuggles, the cuddles, and kisses, are rewards of the highest kinds and I love immersing myself in those moments.
We are not even half way near done. A new year means at least 5.5 more months to go before we conclude the academic year. Much as I will have loved this experience, depending on how the situation around COVID-19 unwraps in the next 8 months, we will most likely send the kids back to school, especially E. She will be learning many a foundational lesson in Kindergarten and I would rather she learn those from someone professionally trained to impart those lessons.
For now, I am enjoying hanging out with my kids especially at their amazing ages and as long as I get to have me-time, I can wing this just fine. For all other times, fingers are crossed in perpetuity.
Cover: School photo created by shangarey – www.freepik.com