This one is for all the parents... it's been a tough month or two out there. Making choices about school, remote/distance/virtual learning, hybrid models, setting up pods, finding childcare, and/or worrying about the choice between safety and education has a lot of parents on the brink. I have never seen some of my working mom colleagues more overwhelmed. Those of us who have kids with learning differences are trying to add in virtual IEP/ARD/504 meetings and figure out how to best help our kids wherever/however they are learning this year.
You can do your best to prepare and get them on the right track. I now have a desk in my living room equipped with many of the items that were recommended in our Virtual Learning with Dysgraphia post. But today, and likely many days in the coming weeks, I want you to just close your eyes, take a deep breath, and remind yourself that no matter how well or poorly the current system in your area is going, it's going to be ok and your child will learn.
If children have interest, then education happens.
At a particularly stressful moment this summer when I was trying to make some educational choices, a colleague sent me this TED talk, "The Child Driven Education" by Sugata Mitra who won the TED Prize for his School in the Cloud concept. Dr. Mitra explains his "Hole in the Wall" experiments where he left computers in India - programmed in English - for kids who don't speak the language or know anything about how to use a computer. The kids achieved remarkable results. (As a scientist, I love the part where the Tamil-speaking kids tell him about learning biotechnology: "Apart from the fact that improper replication of the DNA molecule causes genetic disease, we've understood nothing else.")
Be clear, I am in no way advocating for getting rid of teachers. Teachers have been heroes this year in so many ways and I hugely respect all the work that they have been doing to adapt. What resonated with me was two things:
When you've got interest, you've got education. The very first success story we posted on Dysgraphia Life mirrors this concept and suggests writing about what you love. We've all seen it. Kids will memorize the name of and evolution of every Pokemon or a complicated new dance from TikTok. If they are interested, they will learn it.
Kids are going to learn, no matter what. Our kids are smart and resilient and they are going to learn new things. At times this year it may look more like problem-solving and life skills than the standard curriculum. Even if they develop internet-connection troubleshooting skills and make their own lunches, they are still mastering things that will help them in life. I truly believe they will absorb as much of the standard curriculum as they can this year and that they can and will catch up, if needed, when the world goes back to normal.
So now as parents, we should take a step back and breathe. The 2020-21 school year may not be ideal and there will be days that will be really hard. In the end, our kids will be fine. They will grow, develop new skills, and comprehend difficult concepts. Remember that children in India could learn from a computer programmed in English stuck in a hole in a wall. Your child can learn anywhere. Just try to spark and cultivate their interest.
P.S. We have just started tagging our blogs. Check out these relevant topics: