As we approach the end of summer and the beginning of the school year in 2020, who is excited to homeschool their "wonderful" children?
Aside from those of you who already homeschool your children, whether for religious reasons or because your school system is equivalent to that of war torn Libya (click on the map to see how your state stacks up), this coming school year may be filling you with dread. All across the country, parents have to make difficult choices and in many cases, these choices are
severely limited. Some school districts are going fully virtual, some are requiring all students attend in person and some let you choose your option, so you can either keep your "precious" children home ALL school year, or you can send them to school with hundreds of dirty children (not your children, other people’s children).
According to the CDC, it is important to send our kids back to school in the fall because of reasons. Read for yourself, but take their recommendation with a grain (or silo) of salt. Their initial recommendation was to NOT send your kids back to school but they had a miraculous change of heart and now think it is OK. Whether you are on the left or right of the political spectrum, trust in our government is at an all time low, so the reality is, we are on our own. So what do we do?
The truth is, some of us are screwed. You have to work and if you aren't lucky enough to work at home, you are going to have to scramble. One thing most American families have going for them is that the past couple of miserable decades has taught us resilience, so most will find a way. Some of your neighbors may need a hand, so lend it if you can.
I am the in the "lucky" camp of those who work at home. I have for almost a decade now and I have mastered the art of coding in my underwear. You may think it is easy, but when the pressure is on and deadlines are approaching, my worn out, duct taped pleather chair really chafes my sweaty thighs.
Both me and my wife work from home and will be responsible for helping our four "wonderful" children navigate the 3rd and 6th grades this coming school year. Sadly, the bulk of the misery will fall on me as my wife has the ready made excuse that she didn't go to school in the US, so she is not qualified to help our little "angels" with their schoolwork. Who am I to argue with a woman who "only" has a law degree in Brazil.
Since I love my little dumplings so much and I am afraid to send them into the enclosed viral catastrophe we now call a classroom, I will have to make due. I am resilient too! Here are my six steps to a successful school year:
1. Ensure all children are fed, well rested and wearing clean and neat uniforms (settle for not starving and naked)
2. Create a dedicated space for each child to work and make them responsible for its upkeep (I encourage the use of threats and torture to enforce this rule...and by torture I mean, withholding video games for noncompliance)
3. Lecture the children on the importance of education each and every time they slack off (this is extra effective on teenagers who historically love lectures)
4. Randomly check their work using a thick, red Sharpie to mark incorrect answers. Shake your head a lot and laugh every once in a while, even if their answers are correct...keeps them on their toes
5. Make sure they expend as much energy during recess as possible. I suggest having them do laps around the house, or if that is not practical, push ups and sit-ups are a good substitute
6. Lastly, drugs and alcohol (not for them, for you)
This may seem harsh, and admittedly, it is, but after a week of whining, complaining, screaming, crying, anxiety attacks and projectile vomiting (not from the kids, from you and your spouse), you will find my teaching method to be a gentle alternative to the military-esque raging hellscape you'll have running through your mind.
If you feel, that maybe, my method would potentially lead to the permanent scarring of your children, you need to toughen your kids up...this is 2020! Or, you can check out some of these links for some more thoughtful, professional tips.
Lean on your community, your neighbors, your family and your local government if you are lucky enough to have competent leadership where you live (come on, this is easily the funniest line of this blog) and we can get our children through this. Use humor, love, compassion, be stern when needed, but at the end of the day, as hard as this is on us, it is harder on our children, so lets come together and make 2020 a year they will remember not just because of Covid-19, but because of the wonderful memories you will make spending all this extra time with your little "sweethearts".