This is going to start out as a rant and then back off a little bit.  

But I’m frustrated right now.  I keep hearing the wrong thing and I’m not loud enough to change the narrative.

Typically at the end of summer, people are talking about going back to school and who their teacher might be and they are starting to think about tests and facts and what kids might learn.

But this isn’t a typical year.  Families might have someone who is immune compromised and their kids might not be able to attend in-person school.  Teachers might themselves be at risk for the virus or might have someone near them where they just can’t risk getting sick.

And yet, I go online and I see people saying “But I don’t want my kids to get behind.”  “Where do I get materials for teaching grade level math”  and “How much should I pay a tutor?” 

I’m not going to talk about inequalities and disparities within our communities and the schools because that is another topic.  I’m going to simply look at how much people are talking about their kids learning facts and how little people are talking about their kids learning to be part of a community.

Ok, here’s where the rant starts:  The other day, my kids started tennis lessons.  This is the first structured activity that they have done in about 5 months.  There are 5 kids in the class (only 3 families) and they are all wearing masks and it is outside and they are all distancing themselves.

I started talking to the other mom about school and how crazy all of this was and she said that as long as things weren’t as bad as they were in the spring.  I agreed with that, the spring was tough.  She said that her son’s teacher only spent 20 minutes a day teaching last spring and that wasn’t ok.

So, I tried offering another perspective.  I said that from a parent’s point of view, it may appear that the teachers are only spending 20 minutes a day teaching but we as parents won’t see that teacher walking other students through assignments and projects through video calls.  We won’t see the conversations that teacher is having with students who are way ahead and keep asking for more challenging material.  We won’t see her looking at each project individually and trying to differentiate for kids who just aren’t understanding.

“Nope,” the tennis mom said, “I don’t believe she did any of that- she just dropped the ball and barely taught at all.  My son had very little to do in the spring. She didn’t create any online content worth anything and my son learned absolutely nothing last spring.”

“Ok,” I said, “I hear you.  Not all teachers were meant to teach online.  It isn’t everyone’s forte. But still, I think we need to support to teachers anyway we can.”

“Not only that,” She complained “But she also had covid so pretty much nothing got done.”

WAIT!  WHAT!?!

Someone close in your community got sick and your response was “What about me?!”

My jaw dropped and I took a deep breath and I said, “well… maybe that was the learning that was supposed to take place?  Maybe the lesson was how to take care of other people and how to support someone who is still working but also got the virus?”

“Yeah, but we got the short end of the stick in the spring and I don’t want that to happen again.”

Ok. ok.  I’m worked up again right now just thinking about that conversation but it is the same conversation happening all over right now again and again.

What is my kid gonna learn this year?

 

What if your child did not learn a single math equation but knows how to make soup to bring to a sick neighbor?

 

What if your kid doesn’t learn a single history fact but can talk about how they helped combat the virus by wearing masks and social distancing and sacrificing fun events when this becomes history?

 

What if your child doesn’t write a single paper but is able to deal with the disappointment and inevitable conflict of only playing with the same 2 or 3 friends for over a year?

 

What if your child doesn’t do a single science experiment but becomes part of a community that takes care of a teacher, writes kinds notes, and helps create fun learning content for their other classmates while a teacher is down for a couple of weeks recovering from a virus. 

 

I realize that America was created (by white people) to be a nation of individuality; a nation based on freedom (for the privileged) and that these ideals are baked into our psyche whether we realize it or not.  “What about me?”  is a common thread throughout America.  Or even, “What about my family?  What about my child?”

I’m not expecting this to go away, I’m just hopeful that the pandemic can have some larger learning lessons beyond standards and benchmarks and that as a nation we can become something better.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is your new mantra:

‘We take care of each other.’

This isn’t just for parents with more than one child because parents of only children can benefit from this phrase as well.

Wondering how to keep your kids from hitting each other?

We take care of each other

Wondering how to get your child to help with the dishes?

We take care of each other

Wondering how to have less squabbling?

We take care of each other

So here it is in practice:

It’s morning. Your kids ask what papa is making for breakfast. “Papa’s taking good care of us and making eggs and toast for breakfast”.  As you are getting ready for work and they need your attention you say, “I can’t right now because I’m getting ready for work. I work so that I can take care of you and provide food for all of us.” Your child goes over to pet the cat, “You take such good care of Felix.” Then one child grabs another child’s toy. “Uh oh, did you want a turn with the toy? Let’s take good care of each other and ask for the toy instead of grabbing it. Say, ‘Can I have a turn after you?'”

So on and so forth.

Why would we do this?

Families are units.

Families are important.

Families take care of each other.

If we keep this as a mantra, then the children realize that their siblings aren’t their worst enemies, but rather someone on whom they can rely. 

What you hear becomes your inner voice.  When children hear that they are a valuable part of a unit or a pod, then they feel more secure and become more responsible.

So then this translates into chores and keeping the house nice. 

Children should never be paid for chores (chores and allowance can start at the same time, but one is not dependent on the other). Children do chores for the same reason adults do chores.  To take care of each other.  My husband helps with the laundry so that we all have clean clothes.  He is taking care of us.  I make dinner so that we are all taken care of.  My children bring in a bag of groceries from the car because we all take care of each other. 

What do you do when your child grumbles? “I don’t wanna” or even just “NO!”

Bring it back around to taking care of each other, and say, “I would love to put away the utensils for you and then you can make dinner for me.”  They will end up choosing the easier job (until they don’t!!!) and then you get them to make dinner for you.  I would be lying if I said I never had toast for dinner.  

Because toast is what they made.

I am amazed at how many support groups and resources there are for Boulder Parents.  Each day, I come across a new one.  

Here is my list so far, and I’m sure there are others that I haven’t found.

Check them all out and then let me know if there’s one I forgot!

Holistic Moms Network This is group of non-judgmental moms who get together for community and support at the Rayback Collective

Mama Love Prenatal and post-natal yoga classes with the lovely Kelly Roche-Sproul.  

The Joy Collective A Boulder gem with everything for birth, post-partum and parenting

Balanced Beginnings Doulas A local group of doulas and support for pregnancy and birth

Campanizer  A Local Boulder Mom started this company to organize all of your summer camps

Moxie Moms They offer discounts on everything in town!

Boulder Rockin’ Moms A group of Boulder moms that talk about anything and everything.

Boulder Meet-Up Groups Find a group of moms with similar interests for social activities.

Boulder Families A weekly update of things to do in Boulder

Parent Engagement Network A resource for Boulder parents to help their kids succeed in school and beyond

Jeff and Paige Great local children’s band with music all about the outdoors

Kids Love Kindness A children’s volunteering group here in Boulder

Bundle Baby Shop This is the one stop shop for cloth diapering.  They will help you with everything.

Boulder County Kids A resource for everything kid-related in Boulder plus information on child care. 

The Family Village- A Longmont Cooperative A new resource for parents in the community- check them out!


That’s the list for now.

 Let me know if I forgot anyone!

Boulder Twin Family

Ask any teacher about which families regularly attend parent workshops and they will always say, “the ones that don’t need to.”  

It could be said (and often is said) that the irony of these parent workshops is that the families who need the information the least are the most likely to attend.  But there isn’t any irony here because the families who attend are ones who regularly seek help and are open to suggestions.

Unfortunately, the families who don’t attend are often the ones where the children could use a little bit more support.  

During my years of teaching, I would have parents who had a lot of knowledge in child development; perhaps they worked at a school as well, or they were a pediatrician, or even fellow teachers.  But just as often, these parents had unruly, poor-mannered, or disagreeable children.  As a teacher, I spent years trying to figure out why so that I wouldn’t fall into the same traps.

What I finally realized (maybe after having my own kids) was that a lot of these “in-the-know” parents didn’t seek help for their children and made simple mistakes that another set of eyes could have prevented.  

No one is perfect and it really does take a village to raise a child.

 

I myself often seek help from other experts to see a situation from another point of view.  Before I started this, I had to ask myself, “How can I help parents, when I often need help myself?” and it was that very questions that made me realize that this work is even more important than I previously thought.   We need to support each other and not be afraid to seek help.

 

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