Yesterday was hard. This was our first full week of home school, and it was riddled with doctors appointments, surgery scheduling, new medications and an unexpected medical diagnosis – and that was just for me! Yesterday was Friday and I have scheduled our home learning to happen in bulk on Mondays through Thursdays with Fridays as a catch up and field trip day. This Friday was tough.
We started the day out smooth and things were well, until I used out reminder boards to write the “finish up” work left from the week. The minute I wrote the reminders (which were literally; math, science, history and backgammon) my eldest shut down. Immediately there were tears, clenched jaw and fists and frustration. Not understanding what had happened I was quick to stop everything and address his immediate need. He would not talk, he just cried. Pulled a blanket over his head stood at the dining room table and cried.
I was baffled. So I enlisted the help of my husband with the younger two so we could work through what ever this was that had infiltrated my son. I squeezed him close, got to eye level and asked what happened. He pointed to the reminder boards and said “Those are too much pressure. Last year at school Mrs “Teacher” would write our names, the list of work that we needed to get done and if it was not done we would lose things. We would lose recess, we would lose game time or even iPad time. I always lost out because I could never finished in time.” He sobbed. I could not help it, I cried too. While I completely and utterly respect traditional school, this felt like we needed to detox and shake off the old “school expectation” pressure and hand in hand, walk into home school expectations together.
I walked him over to the little reminder boards, held him close and said “Buddy, please know I am not your teacher – I am your mother. We are safe, learning at home and this school work will never, ever be a threat over you and losing out on anything. The amazing thing about learning at home is we do not have to be restrained by overwhelming deadlines, timetables and keeping beat to someone else’s drum. We are in this together, all of us at home. It is safe here.”
The rest of the afternoon called for a break – early day this Friday. He hopped in the truck and went to a work run with dad, then in the middle of the run they stopped to explore the sunflowers. The huge blue sky above, the reassuring foundation of earth beneath their feet at the cool breeze blew the sweet smell of sunflowers on his face. The deadlines, pressure and frustration all blew away on that same breeze and he found joy in the pure simple beauty of the sunflower field.
Home learning this week was not exactly as I had hoped, we had our ups and we had our downs but we also had the power to take any break needed and literally stop to smell the flowers. I went to bed excited to see what this year has in store for us, as we learn at home, together.