Back to School...or Not
Updated: Jan 13, 2021
Parenting in a pandemic has been like riding a roller coaster ride that never ends. We’re constantly trying to make the best choices for our family based on the limited information we have at any given time and then soon after finding out that what we thought we knew was wrong or the decision we made wasn’t good enough.
The impending first day of school has been looming over us. Summer break was a much needed reprieve from distance learning. Sadly, it was not conducive to the way my children learn and spiked some pretty nasty behavior issues from all that screen time. Of course every one was simply doing the best they could with the hand we were all dealt during quarantine and I know the teachers struggled with the efficacy of this model for young learners as well. There was no “right answer” there was simply what we had to do.
Our school district recently released that we would be following the hybrid model when returning to school in the fall for the first months and gradually transitioning to full-time classroom learning. My gut instinct was dread. Hear me out. I’m not a fan of hours of screen time each day and I can hardly focus in a Zoom meeting let alone ask my eight year old to do it for 3 hours a day and actually retain the material she was learning. That’s on my low end of concerns for this problem. I could certainly ask her to be flexible and challenge her to learn in new ways...sure.
I’m deeply concerned about the ramifications of asking my child to wear a mask for eight hours a day for five days a week. How will that affect her physical health over these next months of acclimating to this new normal? How will breathing in all that carbon dioxide affect her long term health and developing lungs? Will prolonged periods of reduced oxygen levels impact her brain functioning and development? I don’t know. I don’t have the answers to this and quite frankly no one does because we’ve never been faced with a situation like this before. Sure, the pediatricians can say that there are no long term affects, but what clinical study has ever evaluated these conditions before?
I’m concerned with the social emotional impacts of children learning and growing in an environment where they can’t actually interact with one another. So much of what our children learn is through play...how can we create these opportunities for them standing six feet apart with their faces covered?
I felt torn. Desperate for life to return to normal for my children. For them to embrace their friends and put this nightmare behind us. I also felt compelled to protect them from the unknown. From the factors that we have not yet considered because we aren’t fully aware of the risk. Trying to be the best mother I can be in this pandemic has been more trying than I can convey. I constantly feel like I’m over reacting, then in the next moment under reacting. I’m being overly protective and then not protective enough. No matter what decisions I make someone will to disagree and pass judgement. It. Is. Exhausting. Now here I am faced with this new decision. Do I send my children back to school full time? Do we try the distance learning model again? Do we homeschool for a year and wait it out?
I’ve made a decision. In my heart I made this decision months ago, but I’ve taken my time processing it and evaluating what it asks of me.
We will be homeschooling this fall.
I never had a desire to be a homeschool mother. In fact when people asked me about that possibility in the past I would laugh because it was ludicrous. I can hardly juggle everything I have now! Why would I volunteer to add more things to my plate??? Also, by no means do I think I’m remotely qualified for this job! BUT...it’s what my heart is telling me is the right choice and I’ve learned to listen to my instincts. This was one of the scariest decisions I’ve ever made. Which sounds ridiculous considering I’ve been to war, but sometimes motherhood feels like a battlefield and the last thing I need is another hat to throw on.
How will a work-at-home mother balance the demands of her job and her children’s homeschool curriculum? Good question! I have no clue, so strap yourself in for the bloopers that this journey is sure to reveal!
Please know that this post and my decision is no judgement on who you are as a mother or what you choose to do with your children. I’m the last person who will ever judge you. I know how hard this decision was for me to come to and I imagine that the process was equally as difficult for you. I’m sorry this is so hard. I’m sorry there is no answer key. I’m sorry we don’t have the ability to glimpse into the future and know what lies ahead.
But know this...we WILL persevere. We will find a way forward. Our children will grow into the beautiful humans we imagined they would be regardless if this blip in reality. I know this because as mothers we are going to will it into reality. No force is more powerful than that of a determined mama.
So keeping that mantra in mind...
Wish me luck.
~ The most unorganized homeschooling mother in the history of pandemic moms