Catch up here on our “Suddenly-Homeschooling” 2020 Crash-Course Guide!
It’s time to talk about the “S” word.
What started as a temporary and more or less unanimous creed of “Just Stay Home” and “Social Distance” has since become an incredibly controversial and perpetually sticky subject. And not to bust out my tiny violin or anything, but . . . among the young and healthy population at least. . . I think us parents facing Back-to-School 2020 have an extra-difficult road to hoe.
Here we are trying to navigate what for most of us has been the hardest and wackiest year yet of our parenting career . . . and somehow we have been suckered into playing some sick version of 2020-Parent-Twister. Everyone to one side is shouting at us telling us to put our left foot over our head and stretch out our toes to touch the green dot, and the other side is screaming for us to bend over backward and place our right pinkie on the red dot. It’s time to take back the spinner before we all fall flat on our . . . faces.
Everyone is telling us what we should or shouldn’t do in regards to our kids’ safety, our kids’ education, and our kids’ socialization needs!
Just keep them home!
You can’t teach 4th grade!
School is going to be a dumpster fire this year!
Parents aren’t qualified teachers!
Kids can’t socialize in masks!
Your kids will be miserable at home!
Nobody will learn anything this year.
Whatever happened to Mama (or Papa) knows best???
On the daily I am struck by how different our two children are from each other . . . and they are in the same house, raised on the same foods, hearing the same conversations, and loved by the same parents! And yet it seems to me like children are so often all just lopped up together and herded, cattle style, into the same stall.
Each of us is working from an entirely different set of circumstances, complications, and concerns, and yet the two opposing siren songs of this whole thing are still claiming one-size-fits-all. Absurd! Our needs/concerns, and the needs/concerns of our children are as wide-spread and varied as the quilt squares in Grandma Gertrude’s sewing basket. We have a patchwork of people out there, and every single one is cut from a different cloth, each with a unique texture, thickness, and print.
We’ve got . . .
Extroverts and Introverts
Tots and Teens
Healthy and Immune-Compromised
City Mice and Country Mice
Stay-at-home parents, work-from-home-parents, and work-away-parents
“Normal” Kids and Special Needs
Whew! Back-to-School 2020 is more awkward than dinner with the in-laws.
And then there’s Back-to-Socialization 2020!
Those of us who have been Homeschooling for a while are probably sick and tired of this particular “S” word. Oh how people LOVE to drop this “S” bomb! It’s like having a get-out-of-jail-free-card. Regardless of a parent’s reasons for Homeschooling, mention socialization . . . and suddenly the case is closed.
But now there are new complications for the “Original Homeschool Curse” . . . and it’s going viral and even including the “mainstream” kids in it’s wake this year! Ahhhh, an equalizer. Honestly, we can use any of those we can get right now! Regardless of whether our kids are at home or at “real” school for fall 2020 . . . socialization is a big concern for most of us parents . . . this year more than ever.
~The Complications for the “Original Homeschool Curse”~
For “mainstream kids” . . .
- distancing on the bus, in the classroom, at lunch, on the playground
- masked social interaction
- less face time, more screen time
For Homeschool kids . . .
- possibly fewer playdates, or masked playdates, or no playdates
- inevitably fewer outings and field trips
- less face time, more screen time
Whoever thought that the “S” word would come springing out of the 90’s and unify us all? I think, when we remove all of our own opinions and biases, we can see that every one of us is trying to do the best we can. So I’m here to suggest we start throwing around a new “S” word and cut everybody some SLACK.
~My advice on Socialization for Fall 2020~
Seek out people who are in your camp, and be kind to those who aren’t. If you want to socialize at a distance this year, seek out other parents who share your concerns and are willing to get creative with you. If you want mask-free playdates/learning groups, seek out other parents who share your perspective.
And don’t be shy!!! I just moved to a new state across the country and I’ve already made friends with four other Homeschool families whose socialization wants/needs are compatible with ours. Talk to strangers (at least ones with kids in tow)! Most really aren’t so strange after all. If nothing else this weird and wacky year . . . it’s oddly an amazing time to reach out and make friends. We’re all feeling a little weird and awkward. We’re all a little nervous, a little lonely, a wee-bit scared, a lot vulnerable, and incredibly emotionally exhausted. We could all use some social support tailored to our needs.
- All ages count. Forget the antiquated notion that proper socialization must be within the child’s peer group. Our Kindergartener had a playdate this week with a ten-year-old and they both had an amazing time. She got to teach him a ton of things and gain the independence of a younger child following her lead, and he got to hang out with a girl twice his age who knew how to do just about everything he could ever dream of. Let your kid socialize with kids half his age, with kids twice his age, and with neighbors or grandparents ten times his age. Some of my best friends are in their 70’s. I learn so much from them. And they enjoy imparting their years of parenting and grandparenting wisdom on a young (and sometimes desperate) mom. Let’s remove the numbers and embrace a wide-range of friendships as a family.
- Do what you can. If it isn’t safe for your family to socialize, or you don’t feel comfortable doing so, put together whatever social get togethers you can that you do feel comfortable with. Open-air get togethers, masked get togethers, distanced get togethers, virtual get togethers . . .
- Focus on weekly rather than daily. Obviously, some of us need more social interaction than others. If you have a very social child, she may need some kind of socialization at least a few times a week. If you have a more introverted child, a social event once a week may be enough. Very few children will need social interaction every single day, other than family conversation and time together. If your child is incredibly social, he may benefit from a Facetime chat every day with a different friend or family member. Maybe call Grandma every Monday, Cousin Lacy every Tuesday, and so on. Decide on how often you and your kid(s) need to socialize each week and then make plans with friends and family accordingly.
- Log extra time with your kids. Don’t forget that your kids can socialize with you, too! If nothing else, we can use this extra time spent at home to bond as a family. Bust out those board games. Get baking in the kitchen. Or cuddle up with a big stack of books.
The school bell is ringing . . .
but it’s ding-dong song resonates with each this year at a different pitch.
For all our sake, or at least for the children’s, for the Covid-generation . . .
May the dissident gap in tone warm in our ears to a melodic harmony,
and may we embrace the back-to-school song together at one a…chord.
Thanks for reading!
Share the love! Pass on this post to a parent struggling with the “S” word!
Love, ~Our Holistic Homeschool~