By TMoM Team Member Laura Simon
If you’re a parent to a school-age child, I’m sure you saw the recent report about learning gains (or lack thereof) and sighed a heavy sigh. In the midst of all the pandemic disruption, and in spite of herculean efforts by teachers who did everything they could to pivot, and pivot again, I think we all knew the last year and a half was going to impact learning. And it’s easy to start worrying that your child’s education resembles are very hole-y slice of swiss cheese.
As a former teacher and current homeschool mom who has homeschooled through multiple disruptive – dare I say, traumatic – family events, I feel like something needs to be said about educational “holes.”
Every child has them.
You can spend your retirement on a fancy private school, and your kiddos will have holes in their education. You can homeschool, and your child will get to college and discover something they didn’t know. They can graduate with honors from the best public school, and they’ll still have to play catch-up at some point.
The thing about education is that it’s an ongoing process. There’s no point at which it’s complete, and no way to learn everything, even with the most comprehensive curriculum. Instead, I’d argue that the most important thing we can give our kids is the ability to learn.
If your child can read – and knows strategies to help if reading is difficult, they can learn that new material in college. If they have study skills, they can catch up. If they possess even an ounce of resilience and determination, they won’t crash and burn when the professor says, “Hey – you need to go back and relearn these basic skills.” And if they understand that the goal of education is learning, and not an A on every test, they’ll be OK in life.
Guess what our kids learned this year? Resilience. Flexibility. The ability to adapt. They probably didn’t like it – I know I didn’t. They probably didn’t thrive, at least in the moment. But here they are, moving forward.
From an academic standpoint, any damage done in the past year is absolutely fixable. The most important thing we can do for our kids is provide them with a healthy perspective on what it means to get an education. We can teach them to ask questions without fear. We can teach them to seek help when they need it.
This is hard, by the way, especially for those of us who were expected to be high achievers. But letting go of the pressure doesn’t mean our kids won’t achieve; in fact, a student who feels safe and empowered in the process will likely go further than a kid who is constantly stressed about the outcome.
Deep breaths, mama. There’s nothing that says all of fifth grade has to happen in fifth grade. Our kids will be OK. If they need to catch up, they’ll catch up. They take a lot of their emotional cues from us, and our attitudes will determine whether they feel equipped to tackle the year ahead or not. And while there’s a lot we can’t control, we can control our attitudes.
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