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You’re Not a Teacher & This Isn’t School

You’re not a teacher.

You know it. Your kids know it. Your kids’ teachers know it. Don’t try to be their teacher. Be their guide. Your job over these next weeks is to keep the kids engaged. Your kids’ curiosity will lead you down some weirdly wonderful avenues. You are free to explore the weirdness.

You’ve got a packet that talks about microbes and germs and yeasts and bacteria? Then I would advise you to bake some bread and make some yogurt.

Feeling science-y? Make some Oobleck. Got a drone or a kite? Take it to the park and talk some aerodynamics.

You’ve got a worksheet-how do animals get through the winter? Then, I’d head down to the park and watch the squirrels for a bit. Take a little bit of corn or some peanuts. Just don’t try get within six feet of the squirrels. As natural prey animals, those toothy, little Tamiasciurus hudsonicus have been practicing social distancing for about 36 million years.

It’s okay to have some fun. You’re not a teacher; you’re a parent.

This isn’t school.

You know it. Your kids know it. Your kids’ teachers know it. Do not expect your kids to sit at the table for 45 minutes toiling away at a packet or problem set. As teachers, we know how to make that happen. But see item 1 in case you forgot; you’re not a teacher.

Just because your kids can engage at home for 90 minutes with Play-doh or Lego or a board game or when they make a TikTok, don’t expect them to behave the same way for school work. Do some school for a while: 5, 10, 15 minutes. Go do some other stuff for a half-hour. Then come back. Maybe. Maybe not. It’s not like you have to squeeze X amount of material into 7.5 hours. It’ll be there tomorrow.

Small doses, artfully applied. This isn’t school.

This is not normal. Kids have anxiety, too.

We are all sailing in uncharted waters. As the saying goes, “Here be Dragons.” None of us like having our lives upended. Your little ones may not have the words to explain what is happening, but I promise you, they know this horse hockey is messed up. Be honest, and use words that make sense to them.

Your middle-schoolers? They’re scared, too. They have just enough knowledge to be dangerous. They see the TV, the newsfeed, they see the numbers, hear the horror stories. They’re old enough that you can share the numbers; that this is indeed dangerous, yet if we behave properly, the odds are ever in our favor that Covid-19 will indeed Passover the overwhelming number of homes.

And your high schoolers? Teens mostly hide behind a “too-cool-to-care” exterior but the fact is, they are really on edge. A reminder-this Covid-19 thing is stressing the crap out of your high school kids. No sports, no theater, no band, no concerts, no friends, no hanging out, no social life. What the hell is going to happen to their education? The PSAT, the ACT, the AP class, the job shadow, the work-study?

Gone, flushed away like some used-up Lysol wipes. How long will this thing go on?  3 months, 6 months, a year? Who the hell knows? (Pro-tip. No matter what the package says, don’t flush wipes.)

College, trade school, careers, adulthood-suddenly, the lives of teenagers are one global cluster-f*&k.

Don’t stress about school. It’ll be okay, I promise. Try not to share your Covid-19 stress with your kids. That’s for your friends and significant other.

You’re not a teacher and this isn’t school.

Explore & enjoy this time with your kids.

As Miss Frizzle used to say to me and my son when he was little, “Take chances, make mistakes, get messy!”

Trust me on this; I’ve been a teacher for a long time, and a Dad for even longer. Remember, I’m rooting for you. Rooting hard.

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