Dear Isolation Schoolers

Posted by Melinda Miles on

Dear Isolation Schoolers,

We are collectively living in the most uncertain time of our lives. There's a huge shift that we must all undertake to protect ourselves and others as we get through this together. This shift may have seen you staying at home with your children and figuring out a new way of life different from what you are used to. Without acknowledging the following, many people are unknowingly presenting assumptions through their online posts, questions, and comments that are indirectly insulting to many homeschoolers and the very negative stigmas that we try to get away from. Homeschoolers generally want to be understood. We want you to have insight into the wonderful and very natural life that is homeschooling. What we don't want is for you to think this is normal for us. Home educators are more than happy to help you out with advice and tips however there's a clear distinction that needs to be made. 

What you are doing is not homeschooling. What you are doing is called remote learning in a situation of isolation schooling due to a global pandemic.
Homeschooling is not receiving worksheets and content from a school.
Homeschooling is not staying home all the time.
Homeschooling is not having little contact with others.
Homeschooling is not spending large blocks of time learning from a screen.
Homeschooling is not having no choice in what the learning material is.
Above all, homeschooling is a choice that we consciously make for our children and families. 

Homeschoolers are better equipped for this situation as we are already used to being with our children all the time. Many of us are also used to working from home whilst homeschooling - it can be done! It requires finding a rhythm that works for you to balance it however you can manage. Be gentle to yourself as you figure out what that looks like for your family. Just like you, the current restrictions have caused a shift for homeschoolers too. Our children are missing out on things, as are we.
The nature of this situation is that we are all doing our best, but our situations are still vastly different. 



Homeschooling normally looks like going out to the library, museum, art gallery,  live music or theatre production. Many more facilities and events that are usually available.
It normally involves many homeschool group catch-ups, classes that interest the children, workshops and other opportunities that pop up. 
It normally involves interacting with people from all walks of life and children of different age groups regularly. Learning from being out in the world. 
It involves taking breaks and holidays when they feel needed, not when they are offered. 
It involves making strong and beautiful friendships but also not being stuck interacting with others if children are overstimulated and need some distance. 
It normally involves going out on adventures in nature and learning through travel and the seasons.
Homeschooling offers the opportunity to honor the whole child, what interests them and provides them with confidence and positive mental health. It allows children to be free to be themselves. It offers them the opportunity to follow their passions with support.
It offers the most natural development and childhood they can have. 
Isolation schooling is not homeschooling.
What homeschoolers have right now is not real homeschooling either. We can apply a lot at home but the world in which we learn the most is not accessible right now. 



Despite the differences, one thing that applies to all is that during these times, we all need support. If you need some tips and direction on how to navigate helping your children learn at home or to connect with them and others in the same situation, find the support groups for isolation schooling. There have been many set up specifically for your situation, to help you. Please don't join the homeschooling groups as you are not homeschoolers, they are not applicable to you. However, don't be afraid to reach out to home educators that you may know or follow. Homeschoolers have a huge supportive community, we are happy to extend support to you where you need it.

I've seen many people struggling with how to fit in being a parent, teacher and in some cases running a business or working at home as an employee. The first thing here you need to realise is being a parent and teacher are not mutually exclusive. You have always been your child's first teacher. You know your child better than anyone else. You are the most qualified to help them in their development and education pathway. You CAN do this. Secondly, children teach parents too, from day one. We grow into the people we are from the lessons we learn on our journey's with our children.
Home educators learn with their children. You can too.

Don't approach how you are living at the moment like it should be running at a normal pace. These are not normal times and we must adjust accordingly so we don't burn out. This goes for your children too. I have seen a lot of people talking about how to educate their children, how to occupy them so they can get things done. I have also seen some people talking about mental health and self-care options for adults. This global situation is MASSIVE for children, just like it is for adults. The world as they know it has been turned upside down and the last thing they need is copious amounts of school work shoved at them. Their mental health needs to be nurtured too, they will not "fall behind". You don't need a classroom to learn, we are all learning every day. We have been from birth. It doesn't start or end with school. Children are wired to learn and they process information from everything they do, picking up on a lot more than you probably realise, naturally. What they need now is connection with those around them to show them that they are safe, loved and everything will be okay. Make this your focus and let everything else follow and, to be honest, you will reap the benefit of it just as much as they will. 

If your school has supplied you with learning material, be gentle in presenting to your children in such a delicate time. Let them do what they can cope with, don't force or push it. There is no passion in forced education. If there is no passion, our mind naturally denies retaining the information because we simply aren't interested. They will not "fall behind".
If you need help moving away from the idea that education is in a classroom, look up unschooling or de-schooling. I particularly recommend reading through the words of Stark Raving Dad. This will give you the greatest insight into how much your children actually learn in natural everyday life so that you can let go of any stress to 'keep up' that you may be feeling.

If your child does have a hunger to learn but doesn't want to do the material they have been supplied with or are looking for more, look at interest-led learning. As an adult, you don't seek to learn new skills you have no interest in, right? This applies to children too. Our passion for knowledge ignites around topics that interest us. Right now children that are used to being in school, have a wonderful opportunity to be able to explore what they truly love and want to learn about. You can also try incorporating the material that they have been given, through this process.

I recommend offering your child(ren) some activities and tools to help nurture their mental health by exploring and expressing emotions, practicing gratitude and meditation, affirmations and offering mindful crafts and play. Work on a healthy growth mindset. I have a range of options to help you on the Resources page. Yoga can also be a wonderful outlet for them. I recommend Cosmic Kids Yoga

For parents, daily meditation is a game-changer and all it takes is 5 minutes a day. Meditation physically exercises your brain and rewires it to live more mindfully. It helps to calm and recharge you. Practicing gratitude, using affirmations and finding creative outlets can help you too.

Every family's journey through this time will look different and there are many different variables to acknowledge from the types of jobs that are being managed from home, material you have been given for your children, how much support you have to navigate your way through your new normal for the foreseeable future. The list goes on. Some families may have a harder time than others and that's okay, we are all doing our best. Please don't be afraid to seek support when you need it. 
Step back when you need to, slow down when you can and let go of expectations as much as you can manage. Your family is what matters the most right now. Don't be hard on yourselves and remember that we are all in this together. It is a new situation for all of us.

Kind regards and whatever support I can offer,
-Melinda


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