Moms and Dads, I really think we need to have a talk about distance learning, especially for those of you who have preschool and elementary aged children. I have been on tele-therapy sessions with folks like you all week long, and I’m concerned about what I’m seeing out there.

I know how much you value education. I know how important it has been to you, and how important it is to pass that value on to your children. But I think that our normal expectations about what our children can learn in any given day became unrealistic five weeks ago when they closed the schools. I don’t think that that level of expectation is realistic or manageable anymore. I think that we need to step back and reevaluate. When we come out on the other side of this pandemic, what are we really going to remember and what is going to matter most to us?

Last year, I had the opportunity to visit London and take my kids to tour a lot of the historic sites that were bombed during the Blitz. It gave me a war time reality check about the families that lived through and survived that experience. I’m pretty sure that none of those parents gave themselves guilt trips for having to pull their children out of school. So maybe here in the modern age, we can cut ourselves some slack. I’m going to make a bold suggestion that we lower our expectations around online schooling.

I know that our school-aged kids need to be engaged and occupied. They feel good when they are industrious. When they create a worksheet and show it to you, they feel good about themselves. However, I’m concerned about all the working parents out there who simply do not have enough hours in the day to execute that themselves on top of holding down their jobs. I know the schools have the best of intentions, and that they too are put in a really difficult situation which they’ve never had to finesse before. But so many parents are reporting to me that what’s being sent home is just far more than what you can keep up with.

Now, I’ve had the benefit of sending my kids through schooling based on an expeditionary philosophy of learning for the last 14 years. And I want to share a philosophy that expeditionary learning holds in the hopes that it alleviates some of the pressure that you feel.

They believe that there are four types of learning that happen, and I want to share two of them that I think apply to the situation in which we find ourselves:

1. Planned Learning

Planned learning sometimes happens in a classroom setting, but it can also happen outside of it. So for those of you who are stressed that you aren’t doing enough planned learning with a classroom style approach, what if you cut yourself some slack for the planned learning that they are likely gaining outside that format? For example, maybe they are learning how to bake and how to garden. And all of those activities outside the classroom are enriching their young, little minds.

2. Unplanned Learning

Secondly, there are unplanned forms of learning. And that too can occur inside and outside a classroom setting. What if your child is learning what resilience looks like? What if they are practicing flexibility on a daily basis? Maybe they are in the process of becoming more patient with their sibling, because they have never had to spend so many hours with them before.

You can see where I am going with this. I believe that our children are still learning a lot during the stay-at-home orders, and I want to encourage you to prioritize your relationships inside the family. What you might need to do to insulate and protect your level of patience with your kids and partner is to lower your expectations that you are putting on yourself or the schools are putting on you. How much distance learning can actually manage in any given day or week?

If you feel really attached to checking all the boxes, what if you give yourself permission to push some of those assignments into summer break when you have a little more bandwidth? Maybe then you’d be happy to take your kids into the backyard and do that chemistry experiment. Just try to start thinking outside the box. A lot of you are putting a lot of pressure on yourselves, and I want to encourage you that for right now, lowering your standards to good enough for now is truly good enough.

All of Flourish’s services are now being offered via online counseling and online therapy. We are using the videoconferencing platform, Zoom, to offer these online services when you need them most. You can call us at 303-455-3767 x. 5, or fill out our contact form to get in touch about our online counseling and online therapy services!

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