If anyone ever mentions to me they have homeschooled their child, I quickly retort with, “You deserve a medal, I’d rather stick pins in my eyes!”
That may be a tad dramatic, but we have all opted to send our children to a traditional education system where children are taught in orderly groups, with timetabled lessons and plenty of enforceable rules. Structure, routine, teacher authority, herd mentality, etc., whatever the magic recipe is at Aiglon, we see fruitful results of our collective endeavours, year after year.
Teachers are happy doing what they love, and students are guided, cajoled and honed into the fantastic young people we send merrily off into the world after we’ve done our job.
But our beautiful system is having to adapt to this new challenge, and as we navigate our way through the next few weeks (or months) of distance/blended/online learning, as parents, we will have to do our best to meet the challenges it brings.
In the spirit of the phrase, do as I say, not what I do, I’m offering up some tips and advice as a parent/educator of three internationally educated kids.
1. Take time to talk it through
Your child may be upset, sad or frankly overjoyed with the thought of not having to go to meditation, maths or PE! So talk about it. Also, as Jacqueline Sperling of Harvard puts it, “Like your children, you also deserve validation. These changes have likely turned your world upside down without sufficient time to prepare. You can feel exasperated and worried even when you’re trying to make the most of these experiences.” Let your children know this is difficult for you, too.
2. Manage expectations and communicate
Talk with your child’s Aiglon tutor if you feel things aren’t going well. You are well placed to get an overview of what is being asked of your child. A good relationship with the tutor is essential to making the best of the situation and help you understand the Aiglon world. It takes a village...
3. Find time to do something fun
It’s very easy to let everyone squirrel away on their own devices but I have noticed that my children actually want to spend some time with me now (not too much mind) so we’ve found a safe space to play baseball together, take the dog and one child at a time on a walk, watch classic movies with no phones and have family meals at home, etc. These are precious times and we will do well to be thankful for them.
4. Let them be
We have to trust our kids do find the drive within themselves to get on with the work assigned to them. We don’t need to hover so don’t worry about checking every little thing. Breathe, stay calm and be kind to yourself.
5. These are strange times
As a parent, the most important job is to keep your child safe, both mentally and physically. For my older teenage boys, my priority is to make sure there is enough food in the fridge (and by enough I mean the requirements to feed a small army), regular offers/orders to ask if they’d like to come on a walk, bake something, phone their grandparents, and load the dishwasher.
So to summarise my thoughts today, the main thing I think is to try to keep things as normal as possible until things return to a new normal, that’s our main job. In my job as a teacher, I know there is a wealth of technology available to help me teach my lessons online, but it is all limited by the relationships I have with my students. As a parent, it's true that whatever happens in the coming weeks there is a golden opportunity to strengthen the relationship I have with my own kids —if I don’t lose my mind first.
About Laura Hamilton
Mrs Hamilton works as Aiglon's Environmental and Societies teacher. She is passionate about environmentalism seeking to inspire Aiglon students to be as Dr Zeuss puts it, "a voice for the trees". She cares deeply about engaging students to get out of their comfort zone, firmly believing that this is essential to experience all the joys and challenges of everything life has to offer. Laura has been teaching, house parenting and tutoring at Aiglon for nearly 7 years. She is mum to Jared, Jude and Beth.