Updated: Jan 7, 2021
I've been hearing from clients, colleagues, friends, and readers who are parents, and also from teachers, that they are struggling with the current schooling situation. With the new obligation to not only have kids around always, and enforce new strict health and distancing measures, but also comply with schools' attempts to translate classroom into distance learning. (It's not going great.)
As a homeschooling family for several years, this hasn't really affected our schooling routine as drastically. But I decided to compose a sample letter for anyone who wants to try and collaborate with their schools, which can be copied and adapted as needed for their own kids and school relationships. Wishing everyone health and safety during these challenging times...See below for letter draft, and feel free to share forward (it has already been shared on social media as well):Dear School Administrators, Thank you so much for everything you do for our children and the community. Thank you specifically for trying to preserve a modified daily learning program for our children. We understand that this crisis has caught you relatively off guard, as much as the rest of us. Your dedication to education is beautiful. We, as parents (and/or teachers) are also scrambling to regroup around this new abnormal normal. Our children are scared and confused, and some of us are too.
We hear alarming, conflicting news, and get calls for Tehillim (Psalms for the sick) constantly. Some of us are trying to work, losing money, and worrying about our jobs and businesses. We are trying to prepare for yom tov while enforcing social distancing and hand-washing. None of us knows how long this will last- the situation or our health. Everything feels shaky and unstable right now, but we are trying to muster Emunah (faith) and be strong for our kids. We are praying, trying to stay as calm and focused as we can while trying to care for our families’ basic physical and emotional needs.
We appreciate, in theory, that you/ the teachers are sending us zoom calls/ conference calls/ assignments. We surely don’t have the experience or immediate material to create curricula ourselves. Yet, trying to get each kid to sit nicely, in a quiet enough spot, find enough phones/ devices for them to participate at specific times, and then making them follow up with assigments, is proving to be very stressful for kids and parents alike. In some cases unrealistic or even impossible.
Right now, our priorities are matters like medical and mental health. And while education is generally a premium value for us, we feel that we currently need to focus on educating the kids to manage this new situation with resilience, rather than keeping up with academics. Ultimately, we are trying to raise children who will be able to navigate life situations with integrity, maturity, and grace. For many of us, this needs to be a full-time endeavor for now.
So we are requesting that you reassess the distance learning program- perhaps by just making it optional for both teachers and students. So that the ones for whom it provides comfort, structure, and stimulation may continue to enjoy those benefits. But the ones for whom it compounds an already incredibly difficult situation, may alleviate some of the extra distress and overwhelm. Thank you for always being attuned to the needs of our families and community. Fervently praying for an end to this pandemic, and the ability to resume the blessings of regular life and learning.
Respectfully and gratefully, Your Names (Feel free to attach this little poem to further illustrate the point.) What if we covered a little less math, and instead teach kids what really counts. Less social studies, and more social skills. Less biology, and more health and wellness. Less chemistry and more communication. Less physics and more physical activity. Less literature and more loving kindness. Less political science, more personal growth. Less civics and government, and more social responsibility. Less computing and more compassion. Less language, and more laughter. Less studying for tests, and more resilience for life tests. Less competition and more collaboration. Less information and more inspiration. Less cramming and more creativity. Less pressure and more pleasure. Less about grades and more about giving. This is an opportunity for families to learn what actually matters.