This week I was interviewed and asked the question, “How can we get through these times of lockdown?”
“Lower your expectations. Lower them for yourself and everyone that has the misfortune of living with you!”
We all had a way of living before lockdown, and that way of living is not accessible to most people right now, so trying to hold onto it brings suffering to you and everyone around you.
This week I struck a deal with my seventeen-year-old son. “If you move your body every day, you get that same amount of time gaming in the evening. He has always been very active, enjoying the gym, martial arts, and riding, but this has fallen away in the last two lockdowns. I know the difference it makes when we all get outside and move, so I took the time to work out what would resonate with him. He agreed. I am marking this as one of my best parenting moments to date. Would I have struck this deal before lockdown? No.
I was chatting to a dear colleague the other day, who told me that she called her primary school-aged child’s teacher to inform her that her child would no longer be attending an online school; the effects on his self-esteem and her mental health were not worth it. As she is an entrepreneur, her son would now be helping her in her business. They would do maths through her profit and loss statements; they would create service products together. Her son would be attending ‘entrepreneurial school’ for the next few weeks. Would she have done this before lockdown? No.
What you decide to let go of, when it comes to education, is directly connected to your expectations of yourself and your child/children during this time.
My husband and I took our nine and eleven-year-old children out of school for a year to travel around Australia, with no intention of implementing formal education. I promise you the skills and resilience my children gained could never have been attained at a desk, or in this current climate, in front of a screen.
And then there are the adults. More adults are working in their PJs than in the whole history of the world. Would this be the case before lockdown? No.
A friend called the other day lamenting that her house is a mess, and she wished she could get on top of it. “Why?” I asked. “For all your home visitors?? Everyone’s house is a mess. Focus on what is important to you”. Her response was, “The bathroom and my bedroom have to be clean.” “Great”, I said, “then let the rest go.”
During this time, it is understandable that we desperately want to hold onto what we knew because we do need an anchor; we do need something to hold onto.
My suggestion is to hold onto your mental health and support your family’s mental health by letting go of everything that does not help you and your family to do this.
Rudolf Steiner’s education is a big part of my family. My in-laws Michael and Cheryl Nekvapil were founding members of the Steiner School in Canberra nearly 40 years ago. My husband attended that school, and both my children have had their foundational education through the Steiner lens. So, if you are home-schooling young children, I hope these words give you respite.
During lockdown and remote learning, please remember:
Don’t try to be your child’s classroom teacher.
Just keep being the teacher you ALREADY are.
We trained for years to teach the way we do, just as you
trained for years to teach the way you do.
Read with your child.
Cook with your child.
Garden with your child.
Enjoy nature with your child.
Make and create things with your child.
Sing and dance with your child.
Play with your child.
And above all, keep being the kind, calm role model
your child needs through this challenging time.
This is how you teach.
Keep doing you.
Your child is learning from you every single day.
from St Thomas Aquinas Steiner School, Ringwood
Wishing you a weekend of lowering your expectations and increasing your sanity.