S.C.H.O.O.L. I don’t know many parents right now for whom these letters put together in this order don’t incite some mixture of worry, concern, fear, or uncertainty as September, 2020 rose up from the shadow of what, for many, was a calamitous spring semester. What are we going to do with the kids: home, hybrid, in-person, other? How can we support their physical and mental health in the best way that we know how at this moment in time? What if we are forced into quarantine again and have to figure out how to teach them at home while still working 12-hour days ourselves? Do I have choices, and how can my UU roots and community inspire me?
In one of her sermons not too long ago, Elea said, “It’s easy to get stuck trying to get straight A’s in Pandemic Studies when no one is giving out grades.” If you are like me, a parent of three, I feel I have finally begun to ace quizzes on ‘How to Get Food Safely’ and ‘Finding Activities for Kids on Staycations.’ But assessments related to ‘What do we do about S.C.H.O.O.L?’ have been responsible for countless sleepless nights and have me running in circles. And looming in the distance for extra credit is the opportunity to use this extraordinary time in history, in the words of William Ellery Channing, “…not to stamp our minds upon the young, but to stir up their own.” Not only must we figure out the what and how of schooling this year, but we are further challenged to help them to better understand the current state of the world and guide them as they create their own meaning.
The sense of uncertainty and lack of control in particular have our family on high alert, and just when I think I’ve honed in on some answers, the questions seem to shift. So what to do? In our family we have decided to take back some of that control and school our kids at home. We are determined, through some combination of virtual public school, online school and outright homeschooling, to turn this into an opportunity to renew, recreate, and reinvent what school can be for our kids.
We also know we can’t do it alone, and we hope to find and create community among those who wonder about Schooling at Home, whether by choice or mandate. If this sounds like you or your family, please watch the First Parish of Groton weekly news for information about a twice monthly drop-in Zoom support group titled “Partnering with Parents” for those wishing to connect with other parents about all things related to school and parenting in these times. If you otherwise have a question or concern or just want to touch base, reach out to me or our beloved Director of Religious Education and we’ll get you connected over email to others who can help.
I am grateful for the opportunity to come together to listen, learn, and dream about this thing called S.C.H.O.O.L., wherever we all are in our pandemic studies.