Parenting in the Time of Corona is an educational and emotional roller coaster. Whether you are prepping to board the hybrid trolley, sticking with distance learning for life, or jumping on board the homeschool train, we are all spending a lot more time with our kids' education.
It would be nice if all this "extra" time were in a more stress-free setting, but this is what we've got. While my life is laughably far from stress-free, I've found a pretty sweet coping mechanism I'd like to share with you:
Everything can be taught through anything.
When I stumbled upon this quote, I was investigating the feasibility of working full time and homeschooling my middle child, who has a significant learning difference. While The Brave Learner: Finding Everyday Magic in Homeschool, Learning and Life is meant for the homeschooling family, its philosophy for igniting a love of learning in your children can be applied to any family. The key is to find "that thing" that sparks passion in your kid, learn about it yourself, tie everything you want to teach to "that thing" and immerse yourselves in the magic of learning.
Here's an example. In March, when we found ourselves thrust into homeschool hell, I couldn't understand why the kids weren't super excited about my geometry lesson and just wanted to watch squishy makeover videos on YouTube and listen to Harry Potter audiobooks, which we access on Libby. I fought to get the kids off of screens with every ounce of my being, only to be met with eye rolls, crossed arms, and skepticism.
Then one day I embraced the "Everything can be taught through anything" philosophy. They were on a Harry Potter kick, so I needed to meet them there. I spent 15 minutes turning my bedroom into Diagon Alley by placing their wands, robes, and stuffed animal familiars on the bed. I gave the kids play money and listed prices for all these supplies in galleons, knuts and sickles. I gave them the conversion factors and let the learning begin.
We found instructions online for a Quidditch game that teaches multiplication. Then we moved our kitchen chairs around to pretend we were taking the train to Hogwarts. I was even able to sneak in some geometry when describing wand motions for spells.
Since March, passions have moved away from Harry Potter. We now have an amateur geologist, a future tornado chaser, and a miniature librarian. Passions have changed, but the strategy still works!
For the rockhound child, one day of watching rock collecting videos on YouTube turned into a drive to Iowa for geode hunting. On the five-hour drive, we included the little librarian by listening to a gripping audiobook, Number the Stars. Using prompts from Scholastic, we had a surprisingly deep discussion about how a book from long ago is relevant to our lives today. We checked out books on severe weather and watched the radar for storms that might cancel our geode plans.
School is a bit more structured now, but that doesn't mean we need to stop learning and discovering with our kids! Now that teaching everything from anything is a habit, it's pretty easy to tie what the kids are learning into what we are doing. If your kids are learning to multiply double digits, tell them that you will give them money for road trip snacks. Do they want you to give them $1.20 two and a half times or $0.35 twenty times.
Teaching our kids that learning is fun and valuable in the "real world" is a worthy endeavor and might just be the biggest silver lining we can take from all this forced pandemic closeness. I hope that we can all dive in, and find the passion for learning again!
-Angela Hyde is the Program Coordinator for the Friends of the Lawrence Public Library.