Homeschooling has traditionally been pursued by highly motivated parents. COVID-19 has required this to be done by unprepared parents who would rather have their children in school and not at home!
Learning to manage a virtual meeting using Zoom has been a positive result of having to deal with COVID-19. This morning, I led such a meeting with two colleagues: our website master and media manager. Operating from three locations, two in Indiana and the other in Michigan, we were able to discuss ways to make navigation smoother on our website and to explore a new marketing strategy using Facebook.
We were meeting on a Saturday. Our webmaster’s weekday schedule had been altered because she was now homeschooling her five-year-old kindergartner as schools in her community remained closed because of COVID-19. The re-opening date was uncertain.
Our session started with our webmaster telling us she was a bit frazzled by her new responsibility. She wore a comfortable grey sweatshirt that bore in large letters on the front the message RELAX. This was advice for her that seemed appropriate, and even necessary. To read it, however, she would need to look in a mirror and read it backwards—not relaxing.
Faint murmurs and the scraping sound of small objects suggested a child was in the room off camera. To the anxious mother, the sounds were thunderous. To us, who could only sympathize, they were not intrusive. Sensing her concern, we did our best to put our colleague at ease. We felt only empathy and the need to encourage a hardworking mom.
Before tackling our agenda, I asked our webmaster about the curriculum for a child in kindergarten. Not waiting for her answer, I offered my experience from eighty years ago when I was in kindergarten, not too different from that of my children fifty years ago. “When I was in kindergarten, we listened to our teacher read stories, took a nap on our mats, and were told we should get along with our classmates. “And,” I continued, “I think this was the same for my children.”
“Not so today,” said our colleague and newly minted kindergarten teacher. “In our first week, my job has been to begin teaching the alphabet and start my daughter writing her name. So far, she has mastered two letters and is getting the hang of writing her first name. But I know there will be a lot more.”
We left it at that and got on with the work. When the meeting ended, I went online to look at what a modern-day kindergartner is expected to learn. According to a proprietary site, a typical course of study for homeschooling kindergartners includes language arts, math, social studies, and science. Things children should study in kindergarten include:
• Classroom behavior—sitting quietly while their teacher reads a story and provides instructions
• Recognize short words
• Reading skills
• Counting to as high as 100
• Math fundamentals
• Early social studies
• Healthy habits
This can be a difficult task even for a trained teacher with abundant resources available. An even bigger challenge is faced by a mother busy working at a job from home or one who is stressed because of missed income from a job outside the home that could not be pursued while her child was home instead of being in school. These mothers face a real challenge and deserve our empathy and, when possible, our support.
Times will change, and life will return to a normal pace—but until then, the only choice is to cope.
By Savvy Senior
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