Don't add undue stress to an already stressful time—your kids will be fine!

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Things have been pretty stressful lately, haven’t they? Things are happening faster than we can keep track of them and our social lives, our work, and our daily routines have all had to change pretty dramatically and with very little prep time. It’s a lot. It’s overwhelming for many of us and we’re all learning as we go, just winging it and hoping that when we make it out on the other side of the coronavirus pandemic things go back to normal. 

For parents who are transitioning to working from home at the same time local schools are closing, things can feel especially overwhelming. Trying to balance job responsibilities with parenting responsibilities and bored kids with cabin fever is no joke and many of us are wondering how in the world we’re supposed to manage.

So let me lighten your mental load a little, parents: You do not need to homeschool your kids during the school closures. Let me repeat it for those in the back. Your kids will be fine if you don’t homeschool.

If you want to give homeschooling a shot, by all means, go for it. But if the thought of lesson planning or trying to teach math or creating a homeschool schedule makes you break out in a cold sweat, just let it go, y’all. Really. Your kids will be fine. 

Despite the rainbow-colored homeschool schedule and the declarations that continuing school is critical for your child’s development, it’s really not. Kids need structure, yes, but that doesn’t mean 45 minutes of math, then 45 minutes of language arts, followed by some super epic science experiment that will leave your kitchen looking like something exploded. 

Just let them play. Play is the critical part, not school. Play has been shown to improve executive function, build self-confidence, and help to develop problem-solving skills. But most importantly, especially in a time like this, it helps reduce stress. And you know what doesn’t reduce stress, for you or for them? Trying to implement an entirely new way of life—because homeschooling is a way of life—during a global pandemic. 

kids homeschool coronavirus
Credit: Getty Images

Not to mention, many districts will be implementing virtual learning and online classes, so the burden of instruction won't fall to parents. Sure, we'll be the ones who have to keep our kids on task, but the lesson planning and implementation will fall to the experts. But parents should also keep in mind that, for many teachers, virtual learning is not something they've dealt with before–they're covering new ground during a time already full of stressful changes.  There may be bumps in the road as teachers and schools settle into the new normal of online education so we all need to remember that this is uncharted territory and not expect perfection out of the gate.

So sure, provide some structure, have a set reading time, a set quiet time, let them play outside (not at the playground though!), go for a walk, take some deep breaths, and do your best. It’s a stressful time for everyone—don’t make it harder for yourself than it needs to be. Cut yourself some slack. 

You’re doing fine and your kids will be OK. Promise.