An unidentified Facebook post made a coronavirus-related comment that runs on a scrolling marquee in my mind. In summary, it said that the next couple of months are more pivotal to students’ well-being than their academic learning.
This is both powerful and true.
Unless a student is homeschooled, they are conditioned to respond to in-class and structured learning. They walk to school or jump out of their parents’ vehicles or step off the bus steps with themed backpacks and brushed hair and teeth. They file into a familiar classroom, with walls covered in vibrant pictures and inspirational quotes, and place their backpacks in their assigned cubbies, after emptying the homework from their folders in the designated ‘turn-in work’ location. Then they take their assigned seat and smile at their fellow classmates as they watch to see if anyone carries in birthday treats and nods good morning to the class pet. The perfectly dressed teacher, with hair just so and an ear-to-ear smile, ushers them toward their day of learning as soon as the school announcements finish the Pledge of Allegiance, daily lunch menu, and morning pump-up song. This is the world students are used to learning within. Organized, Creative, Inspired, and Mission-Fueled.
Catapult yourself to their current reality.
Students do their best to learn at home, but they are not licensed to teach themselves. And yet, they’re asked to learn via online and via homework packets. Their unlicensed parent or guardian does their best to assist them, assuming their parent or guardian even tries to help, but does not understand and/or deliver the perfected lesson plan the teacher likely would’ve used to hit the points in the assignments home. This leaves the parents and guardians feeling as helpless as the students.
As if that’s not difficult enough to deal with, students may or may not have had breakfast or even brushed their hair before they are asked to sit down and commence their daily school work. And as they sit at their makeshift desk and face the wall, their younger siblings clank legos together and their mother finishes the dishes, sloshing water and clanking silverware against the plates and glasses. They are asked to learn silently and to figure out their teacher’s instructions before they can strap on roller skates or pick up a piece of sidewalk chalk. The confidence they had in their ability to learn wavers as they struggle with things that seemed a cakewalk only a month before. As their struggle to grasp the material strengthens, their belief in themselves as a student and as a child who pleases their parent or guardian weakens.
One of Humanities Brightest Beacons: Teachers
It’s important to note that teachers are humanity at its brightest and most beautiful right now. They are doing their best, and their best is absolutely incredible. They are talking with their students through physical handouts, email, social media, and web meetings. They are trying to find outdoor activities to hit lesson points home and are available around the clock for questions. They’ve been known to parade around town in a long line of vehicles, beeping and waving at the students they miss and who miss them. They are showing up in a big way for both their students and their students’ parents and guardians.
In fact, standardized tests have been thrown out the window and yet, teachers are working tirelessly to provide as much learning and support as possible. In truth, they, on average, have always worked harder than their paychecks reflect and right now the world is witnessing this undeniable truth. Their hearts, not financial incentives, are leading the way and serving as their compass. Youth have a front-row seat to humanity at its finest when they look at their teachers, and they have the opportunity to witness the kind of neighbor and community members the world and their families need them to be.
Here’s the disheartening truth: For all the effort teachers and educators give, it simply is not the same as in-class learning.
Despite best efforts, some will struggle
There are youth who do not learn well online. There are youth who learn best in social situations. There are youth who are too worried about the coronavirus and too displaced from their organized and predictable world to focus on learning. And to all those youth and those youths’ parents and guardians, it is absolutely OK to do your best and to leave it at that.
Your youth will not be thrown from their life’s best path because for a couple of months learning was difficult in the midst of the world’s unprecedented self-quarantine. Struggling for a couple of months to learn, in a manner which is completely foreign to students, will not cause youth to lose mental development or a shot at their best life. However there is something that can happen within a couple of months that can and will be detrimental to youth, and that’s whether or not their well-being mattered more to their parent or guardian than their academics.
The focus on well-being trumps the focus on academics
Although the coronavirus doesn’t give anyone a pass from attempting to learn and to accomplish their daily assignments, nothing warrants hurting your youths’ self-confidence, increasing their worry, and/or hurting the relationship between you and them.
- This is not the time to guilt youth into schoolwork.
- This is not the time to compare youth, as anyone with multiple children will tell you they all learn differently and respond to situations differently.
- This is not the time to stress about academics.
- This is not the time for you to raise your voice and pass your stress onto youth because they don’t deserve to be the absorption pad for your worry, anxiety, and a short fuse.
This is a time to ensure your children feel safe, secure, and supported while their organized worlds are topsy turvy and are uncomfortably unpredictable. Do the best you can, and leave it at that. And while you’re paying attention to your children’s emotional and mental well-being, make sure to pay attention to yours as well. Whether you reduce symptoms of physical anxiety and/or physical restlessness with the clinically proven Inositol or make an intentional effort to fuel your mind and body with good nutrition and exercise, take the time to set the stage for your best well-being, too.
In the future, your youth will not be displaced because of a couple months of learning that were their best efforts but not their best work. However, they absolutely will be mentally and emotionally displaced if for several solid months it was pounded into their impressional minds, whether by themselves or by others, that they were not smart or that they did not perform in a way their parent or guardian favored.
As we adjust to life in self-quarantine, parents and guardians set the tone and the stage for their youth’s world. Take the time to set that tone and stage as thoughtfully and as perspective-filled as you can.
Author: Evelyn Lindell
Certified Health & Wellness Coach