First and last camping trip of the summer…we’ve loaded up the truck with our tent, sleeping bags, food, camping supplies, kids, dog and well quite honestly everything BUT the kitchen sink. Oh, yea and don’t forget…our masks, hand sanitizer and disinfectant…just in case. We are a traveling family that thrives on adventures together and even though over the past 7 months we’ve been quarantined to our homestead…we’ve managed to have adventures right in the safety of our very own home.
This adventure marks the end of a summer and the beginning of a new journey…
Over the past 6 months my husband and I have tag teamed between learning how to work full time jobs remotely as well as figure out how to make the environment and circumstances of our children getting their last few months of school ripped from them and forced to learn from the kitchen table, deck, living room couch, playroom, bedrooms…really anywhere there was a table, we took advantage of whatever tools we could in order to continue our children’s education until we were all released for the summer…
The summer was filled with flexible hours of working early mornings, intermittent hours during the day and late nights in order to enjoy ALL of this new time we were sharing as a family. There’s been trials and tribulations but the rose-colored lenses that I continue to wear allowed me to see this “new reality” as a way to learn and grow WITH my family.
NOW we are faced with re-adjusting to another NEW REALITY…Pre-K and 2nd Grade as well as adjusted schedules of working from home (indefinitely) and forming our very own “Learning Pod”. As we approach the upcoming school year there is so much unknown that we’ve been preparing for anything to happen.
Some have asked…”how are you handling this,” or “what are you doing to combat anxiety and stress both as a parent and with the children.” My biggest go to is take it ONE DAY AT A TIME and be positive. Speak positive. Those little ears are listening too and the more stress you speak the more it adds to their minds. Remember, children learn from us! We’ve been doing more meditating/breathing exercises, eating healthier, organizing and talking about adapting to change.
Change is good.
Change is hard.
Change is unstoppable.
So if CHANGE is apparent, then we as parents need to live and speak in ways to not instill fear or worry in our children (speak about that stuff behind closed doors…I know it’s within no matter what)!
As a working mom, there’s also definite mom guilt that seems to supersede my “let’s think about the positive” here and I do my absolute best to keep my physical, mental and emotional well-being healthy.
BUT there’s definitely times where I think…"Oh my goodness, I’m going to lose my sh!t!"
With work being demanding and a new school year here I’ve been really focusing on organizing and preparing the vision of working from home and learning from home. From the beginning I have had this “idea” of a learning pod. Gathering a few children and having someone join our tribe to help guide the children as they adapt to “virtual learning” while also embedding fun and wild adventures along the way. When the survey came out originally asking if we would do the hybrid or the remote, we chose remote. We made this decision based on multiple factors that we felt would benefit our children mentally, physically and emotionally. Then it sunk in…how the heck are we going to be able to do this on top of successfully work and manage a household.
A learning pod is defined multiple ways; however, it is essentially a small group of children that gather to learn together. We are utilizing the remote option our school is offering with their virtual teaching incorporated into our pod. We have hired someone to help our small group of preschoolers as well as a small group of 2nd graders to partner with us and our teachers to make this transition and experience less stressful and more flexible but setting the stage with new routines, chores and responsibilities. Learning pods are not something new and after doing a lot of research we have taken a bit from every form of learning to create the experience we are preparing for this fall for our children consisting of virtual learning, wild and free learning and hands on experiments and adventures correlating with what our kids are learning in school.
“While many families today seek a short-term pod that meets their need for community during the pandemic, many pre-pandemic micro-school educators and families were drawn by different motivations. Pre-existing micro-school families and educators were drawn to the micro-school model not from necessity but from a desire for a freer, more creative learning environments than were otherwise available.”
Over the past few weeks more and more people have reached out to ask what we are doing, and it has opened the doors for others to explore and form what is needed for their family. One of the biggest issues I’m seeing is that families are different…between size, ages, values and principles. We all need to be open minded and flexible as this new journey begins. We need to support one another and make sure we have each other’s backs. I do not think this will be easy, but I do know that if we all have support, it can lessen the load of feeling alone.
We are all in it together!
Our learning pod consists of 4 families totaling 4 second graders and 3 pre-K. We all live within a block of each other and all have working families both remote and onsite. We have created a learning pod tribe and are overly communicating each other’s schedules, ideas, wants and needs to meet the needs of all of our families while successfully setting up classrooms at our homes for the pod to travel to and feel safe at. Our teacher that we are looking to hire has experience and has a passion to partner with us and our teachers to make this experience as educational and successful as possible!
While we might have figured out how to juggle while working from home and being home with our children…learning from home is an added ball to the juggling pack.
Jackie Kazar, a teacher at Claremont Avenue School 20 in Woodbridge, NJ, and I were speaking the other day. I had asked what her thoughts were for the upcoming school year and if there was anything she could suggest while we all tiptoe into September.
Her suggestions were:
-Routine!!! Get your kids back into a solid daily routine. It’s important no matter what educational route you choose, for your kids to have a bit of a schedule and routine.
-Communicate!!! Speak to your children. Be curious. Introduce yourself to your children’s new teachers, ask questions, partner with them as much as you can so that you can be aware of expectations and schedules as well as let them know the wellbeing of your child. Although the teacher and student will be working together, not being in the same room could lead to miscommunication, shutting down and frustration.
-Take “mental health” days! They are not only for adults…but children need breaks too!
-HAVE FUN / BE PRESENT / BREATHE and know it will all work out!
Great insight from a new working from home mama AND a teacher that also gets it!
We are all in this TOGETHER!!!!
Now, off to the new normal to conquer the unknown!