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Schooling from Home: Take the Time to Discover your Tribe

It is 2020 and one of the consequences of the pandemic is that many parents are finding themselves in a role they were not trained for, and never signed up for, and that is their child’s classroom teacher. As more class instruction moves out of the classroom and into the home, some parents are finding themselves frustrated and overwhelmed with trying to help their student or students with their studies. Although I have a PhD in Education, if I had to help my son and daughter with their AP History, French 3 or flute lessons, I too would be frustrated and overwhelmed. These are not my areas of expertise and it would take me a lot of reading and researching to be of any help.

My suggestion to parents feeling the panic of the pandemic because of their students’ online homeschooling is to discover their tribe. Reach out to your family and friends and familiarize yourself with their knowledge base. Ask them about their job and specific skills they have developed, ask them about their major and minor in college, if they know other languages, if they play or have played a musical instrument, or types of books they like to read. Let your family and friends know the specific courses you are having difficulty helping your students with. At the same time, let your family and friends know of your talents, interests and courses you would be willing to assist with. Even if they do not have school-aged children learning from home, they may know someone else that does.

If you take this time to reach out and share, not only will you get to know your tribe better, but they may be able to help you shoulder some of the burden of helping your student learn from home. The African phrase, “It takes a village to raise a child” has never been as true as it is right now.

Parents as First Teachers

My mom used to say to my brothers and I, “I am your first teacher. Your teacher at school is your second teacher.” Although I didn’t quite “get it” at the time, and her sayings like this were often followed by a teenage eye roll.  Now as a parent and an educator myself, I get it! Parents should assume responsibility for overseeing their children’s education. I grew up as part of a subculture referred to as “military brats.” I don’t know if it is because of that or not, but what I do know is that my parents took on the responsibility of ensuring my brothers and I received the best education possible regardless of the country, state or school in which we found ourselves.

My parents’ responsibility toward our education included such things as:

  • Weekly trips to the public library
  •  “Forced family fun” which usually consisted of a mandatory board game
  • Our entire family sitting together with the Sunday paper and discussing our readings
  • And my favorite… math workbooks to be completed every summer as we spent hours travelling either on vacation or moving from one duty station to another.

I believe if more parents assume the role of “first teacher,” their children will be more prepared to meet the expectations of their “second teacher.”