These words are designed to be relatable and encouraging. I am writing this from my personal perspective in an effort to help you feel like it’s all going to be ok. This is designed specifically for those who have been thrust into the important role of educating your little ones, very quickly.
First things first, every parent wants the best for their kids. I truly believe this statement whole heartedly. In my 15 years working with young people I have seen both great and not so great parenting, but under it all there is without a doubt a sense of ‘trying your very best’ to help your children become the best version of themselves, to provide the best for them. Parents would do a lot for their kids, they already do on a daily basis and that will probably continue for life. After all, they might not be living at home or be children, but they will always be YOUR kids. When I type all of this, I believe that's the same for my parents.
My school experience.
I grew up on a farm in a little town called Mt Evelyn with two siblings, our childhood was very different to my peers. From a young age I was taught how to look after all the animals we had on the farm, everything from horses to chickens to guinea pigs. In fact, the earliest memories I have are of these times on the farm. As I grew up and became stronger I was able to help with more work, like building farm sheds and fences. I also played a lot of sport during the day, in particular with my twin brother. The idea of learning to me was so much more than then option to sit with mum and learn to read. Farm life was bigger than that (and obviously the idea of riding my horses as a little girl was way more exciting!) Life on the farm was hard work, but it taught me a lot of practical skills that I still use today. (I don’t think I can say the same for that algebra thing). Fast forward many years of ‘Farm Life” and I discovered more about what formal education looked like. My older sister was no longer at home during the day, she mysteriously disappeared each morning and returned in the afternoons. When I found out she was ‘going to school’ I asked if I was allowed to do the same as her (Of course, like every little sister on the planet!) Mum said yes.
The following February it was my time. I jumped into the car and travelled to ‘school’ and I had absolutely no idea what I was getting myself into. I was technically 10 years old when I started in Grade 6 (born in March) and that was my very first day of formal ‘schooling’. (If you worry about whether to send your kids to school at 5 or 6 years old, my personal opinion is that it probably doesn’t make that much difference) Grade 6 was really hard. Not being allowed to eat and drink or play sport when I wanted just sucked. I had to sit in a class room all day trying to learn things that I simply didn’t understand. And learning how to ‘be a friend’ to people in my class was simply a foreign concept. To really put things in perspective for you, I couldn’t spell my own name and I had trouble ‘writing’ it (on the top of every piece of paper you write on) I also didn’t have my pen licence.
I want to reiterate that I do believe my parents did their best, and that their intentions were honest in ‘homeschooling’ me and my siblings. That however, didn’t make Grade 6 (and most of high school) very easy. These were challenging years, but I did learn to overcome those challenges in my young adulthood.
My greatest encouragement for you, and what I’ve learned from my own personal experience is this:
Every parent wants the best for their kids – so teach them in your own way and the way that works best for your kids. If you feel like the idea of ‘teaching your kids’ is overwhelming and you’re afraid of getting it ‘wrong’ – relax. We are in unprecedented times, and that calls for a new approach. Do this season with your kids’ best interests at heart, and to the best of your own ability. Don’t compare your ‘teaching’ journey to someone else’s. Trust me, mine felt like it was on a different planet! Your teaching style will be just fine and remember this is a short term approach – it won’t last 6 years!
Formal schooling has its place, but it is not the be all and end all. My journey was so much more practical than my peers. Sure, missing out on the foundational skills set me back, but I found a way to learn and be resilient in some of the toughest challenges.
Yours kids already have the foundations, and they won’t be ‘left behind’. If your worried that missing out on one term will be detrimental to your child’s future, let me help you change that. If your kids are in high school and they know how to write their own name, then they be perfectly ok! You could also be underestimating their resilience – their ability to adapt in this season may surprise you!
Above all please be encouraged by the fact that this is temporary, you won’t need to be a ‘super parent’ for years (although most parents probably are being that every day of their lives!). In this modern world we live in, think outside the box and do things your own way. Education is about learning and not all learning happens in a structured way. Breathe, you will be amazing at this! Give yourself a bit more credit then perhaps you currently are.
I know you have heard this a thousand times but we are ALL IN THIS TOGETHER and there is a sense of community and unity in that statement, a sense of calm and reassurance. Other people might not seem like it, but they do feel the same as you.
My parents did their best, and I’m sure you will do your best too.
Show your kids what true resilience looks like by being flexible and working out this journey with them.
(if you need a quick break for a cuppa at any point, invest in a school bell!)
Recently I just became the 5th female to represent Australia in the World Marathon Challenge – completing 7 Marathons on 7 Continents in 7 days! If a small town girl who was ‘formally uneducated’ can conquer the world, imagine what your kids can do?
All my love and best wishes! “You’ve got this, and you are truly capable of more than you think”