Sunday night means school tomorrow. Obviously not actual school, but when our weekends are finished and we tuck our kids into bed on Sunday nights we always remind them its school tomorrow. Ever since we have started to do some “school at home” it has allowed us to get into more of a routine and have some sense of normalcy.
With the Pandemic and so many changes to our life school has been something we miss. All three kids miss seeing teachers and friends. They are missing the routines for sure but also the things that they were working towards. Grace, my four year old, talks a lot about her new school for Kindergarten, her uniform and all the things she has coming up. It has definitely been an eye opener to how many events we will be missing over the course of just a few months (uniform try on day, parent info night, Preschool Grad to name a few). In the scheme of things I realize how small and trivial these things are but to my four year old they are big things. We are navigating new times, without being able to answer questions about what the near future will look like. This can be scary and emotional for all of us.
School has been a hot topic, and rightfully so, with many parents and families. It has also been a tough situation for so many people. We have just one school age child, and he’s only in Kindergarten. Our other two kids are preschool age. On top of them being so young, we are also in a very unique situation where I am a full time mom and my husband works shift work and is home during the day.
We do not have to struggle with trying to work from home, or balance teaching our kids with our work, or even share technology between all of us. We have enough iPads/ computers and Fraser is still leaving the house to go into work. I cannot imagine the challenges families are facing during what is already a stressful time. I am beyond grateful for all of these things. I know we are very fortunate to be in the situation we are for so many reasons including the ages of our kids, the support we have from our school, the set up we have at home for home learning and more. That being said we definitely don’t have it perfect, we have our own set of challenges. My son has Autism and normally has many supports and programs. We are transitioning to enter Grade 1 and leave a lot of the programs he has had through his toddler years, there was a plan to help make this shift from his therapies to school gradual which will not be happening as we are not able to attend any of these programs currently. In addition it is so great to have my husband home during the day but he is still working so he is overtired trying to help with the kids and continue to work at night, plus with us trying to still continue with some learning (school and therapies) it means I am spending time doing that… less time to do household stuff which still needs to get done (meals, laundry, maintenance, etc). I guess our worries are “good” ones to have. We aren’t worried about our home, food or the necessities but I guess my point is that it still isn’t easy.
I thought I would share some of the things that we have learnt over the past 6 or so weeks and some of the things that are working for us. I am understanding and empathetic of every situation and realize not everyone is in a situation where these would be relevant. I appreciate that. If there is one thing we should all be learning right now is that there is no right answer and what works for one, might not work for others. I just thought I would share what is working for us.
1) DETERMINE LEARNING PRIORITIES OR EXPECTATIONS. What do you want your child/children to come out of this having learned? What are your goals?
This is one of those questions that we are asked often with Rowen. When you have a child with special needs you are constantly goal setting and at first it is strange and unknown but then you learn to set goals that are age appropriate and seem almost second nature for kids to learn but, for Rowen, are things we make a conscious effort to teach. It can include things like learning how to initiate play, play with others or independently, win and loose, take turns, etc.
Goals can vary so much from child to child, and family to family. For us during the pandemic and “schooling from home” I want my kids to learn about emotions, disappointment, flexibility and gratitude. I also want them to learn a bit about global responsibilities and being part of a community as well as giving back or helping others and how we can do that. However I hope we can learn more than these big life lessons.
I want to try and support my son to be able to maintain all the skills he has built through kindergarten thus far. So keep up with his reading, maintain some routines, fine motor skills and writing, do some desk work, follow instructions and concentrate on a worksheet. Although these things might seem small or that they can be picked back up again whenever we do return to school, they are goals we have worked hard to reach over the last few months and even years. When we do not practice and apply skills we have learned they can be forgotten and I would hate to fall back when we have worked so hard to get to where we are.
By defining what our goals were I have been able to make adaptions to our day depending on our moods, weather, other things that are going on in the house, etc I love this because it gives me a guide to check against. For example if we are having a moody day and Rowen isn’t cooperating I can look through his class activities and decide do these need to be done or can we “skip” them and still achieve my goal for Rowens learning. Most times we are good to “skip” and then I do not have to beat myself up or force him to do stuff just to get it done.
2) CONSISTENCY IS KEY. So this could look different but for us it is making sure we are up, fed and dressed by 9am for Rowens first class meet. Prior to having this option we were sleeping in a lot, rarely getting dressed and never starting our “work” before 10am at the earliest. There was nothing wrong with this but by giving ourselves a bit more of an expectation it has helped us start our day off better. We also have determine the morning as “school” time and then noon-ish is lunch and the afternoon is free for whatever we like. This has helped to establish again expectations It hasn’t meant every day is great but it has made it easier for me to enforce and be a but more dedicated to school work.
3) BE PREPARED. I have found it is huge if I prepare stuff the night before. The kids are usually very excited to come out and the morning and see what stations I have set up for them or even for Rowen just to come see todays To Do list and know what he has to get done. I think it gives me a bit more credit with them and they trust I have a plan (even when I don’t)
4). BREAK UP YOUR DAY. Take breaks. We sometimes call them body breaks and will set timers for a 15 minute jump in the tramp or a quick swing. It might even just be a snack break (recess and lunch shouldn’t be forgotten). We made some fun body break cards that Rowen could pull out and it would tell him somethings to do (10 push ups, dance like a robot, etc).
These are just a few of the things that we are trying hard to implement and follow to help make our days the best they can be. We are looking forward to a time when we get to return to our programs but for now we will continue to work on what we can.
Keep learning. Keep washing your hands. Keep your head up!