Commotion at home:
As the COVID19 crisis continues, the most common theme of discussion today is how to manage children at home? While some have figured it out, others are taking all the help they can get, some others are frustrated by the situation. Now that everyone is a home-schooler, it is interesting to observe how this lock-down is influencing the learning of parents.
In this short period of lock-down, we are only meeting people online. There is a lot more time than usual at home to engage ourselves with our children. This takes me back to 1992 when schools were shut down in the middle of the year due to communal riots. We were all asked to stay indoors during the curfew. It was not as tight a lock-down as at present, but it had an impact on peoples’ mindsets and lifestyles. I remember my parents not discussing the riots in our presence and keeping their opinions to themselves. The children had minimal exposure to the external unrest for reasons best known to parents.
I remember my parents engaging my brothers and me in gardening activities. We grew our own vegetables in the backyard. The schools being closed did not really bother my parents as heavily as it is bothering present-day parents. I say this with conviction because they never called my teachers and school to ask for homework and worksheets. The rules were simple – revise your lessons with your textbooks and notes, read a good book. We all had our share of household chores as well. In leisure, we were instructed to read the newspaper and acquire some general knowledge. Newspapers were the most accessible information channel then and decidedly of better quality.
I am surprised and worried that the summer vacation of 2020 has turned out to be so troublesome for a lot of families. Is it because the kids are at home or is it because the parents are at home?
It brings me to the question, why are we so hell-bent on schooling our kids in Bengaluru during the summer holidays? I can understand if the parents living above the tropic of cancer want to do it. What is the worst that can happen if the kids are bored? Can we not just spend time with the family without any agenda for a month? Why is everybody worried about lessons and homework? Maybe we should pause a little and watch the life in the rural areas of India. They do not seem to be worried at all about worksheets. I feel the influence of spreadsheets at the workplace is subconsciously tormenting the parents in the Silicon Valley of India.
Is it a herd mentality? The media says we must home-school our kids, and everyone is parroting the same. Schools are supposed to motivate students to think sensibly. Instead, they are behaving senselessly by starting online classes during a SUMMER VACATION. How ridiculous is this!
Think about the children:
Has anyone asked the kids what they want to do? Is it not a great opportunity to get to know your kids’ thought processes? It would not hurt to sit with them and talk to them about what they are feeling during these times, would it? They are experiencing a new situation in their environment for the first time in their lives. We have seen bad times in life earlier than this. How can we apply that learning?
As grownups, it is our responsibility to make the environment calm and livable for the younger generation. Our responses and behaviour in these uncertain times will influence our children’s thinking. They are constantly observing us at home, a lot more than usual. I have noticed that the media is crazy as usual and so are parents.
Sorry to say this, but the lock-down has shown us who we truly are. I see so much of misinformation being forwarded, so many insensitive opinions being shared. More than anything, the non-stop memes and jokes about ‘education’ not being an essential service. We joke about this in front of our kids, and then expect them to study with their online sessions and homework and worksheets. How would such a thing make sense to an evolving mind? Why would they study if their parents’ opinions about the school system are so disrespectful?
Watch yourself and safeguard your children:
The times are hard, and the children are being exposed to a crisis without being properly equipped to handle the situation constructively. Without a direction, these hard times will make mal-adjusted individuals in the future. In these challenging times, I request parents to be protective of their children – do not expose them to the harsh realities without setting the right context. A lot of stupidity is prevalent on social media to which the kids are exposed indiscriminately. This kind of unchecked exposure will leave lasting impressions on their formative minds. These impressions will dictate their future behaviour with their peers and the next generation.
These are the times parents need to exhibit the strength of character and scientific temper in managing their lives. These are the life-lessons for your children’s future, be mindful of how you deliver them. This is an unprecedented situation for parents as well. Learn, ask for help to manage your own stress. Reach out to enlightened minds or good books on managing the crisis. But it is time that you become the hero in your kid’s life in these times of crisis.
Build stronger relationships:
These are also the times when parents should embrace and exercise a balanced routine. A routine of good and healthy habits with the family. A routine of sharing household work and caring for each other. A routine of thoughtful discussions with family. A routine of getting bored and letting things be. A routine of life without agenda and targets. A routine of watching some classic movies with the family. A routine of playing games as a family. A routine of sharing your inspirations with kids. A routine of storytelling with family. It is good to turn the clock back a few decades and think of our own and our parents’ childhoods. My wife constantly relates her childhood memory that prolonged power cuts were perfect storytelling times with her grandmother. What memories are you building for your children?
Remember, we are all at home and not in a social gathering where we usually wear masks of our own alter egos. At home, children are with us and around us. Whether we like it or not, they are influenced by our thoughts and actions.
Times of crisis are also inevitable times of growth. Let us use this opportunity to create more meaningful life experiences for our children and our families. Let us build stronger relationships.
Take care, live safe.
Sriraghavan S M
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