Lessons on how our family persevered, adapted and are managing through the COVID era
Like so many other parents our children were with us all the time...in our home… work is now in our home...all the time. While we have been homeschooling since 2016 our kids had a very active family field trip schedule; libraries, gardens, farms, swimming pools, and trade skills camps, etc. prior to covid.
Fundraiser for our children's preschool in 2016
Thankfully role models and children book authors decided to invest their now “extra time” into providing read alongs and storytimes. I appreciate Michelle Obama providing respite for us by reading books to my kids while I attend my virtual meetings.
Also, many creatives were inspired to read to children or teach their craft on-line free of charge via Youtube or their websites. A quick google search of your favourite artists' names and you are bound to find one of them sharing how to videos about their craft. One of our family's favorite book series illustrators Mo Willems. The Pigeon series is the first story series that as a family of 5 neurodiverse learners not only agreed on but enjoyed for storytime since our kids were in preschool. His “Lunch Doodles” video tutorials served as family time, a “virtual” field trip, and art class tailored to the kid's favorite characters.
Mo Willems Lunch Doodles
All of our children learn differently and I had been holding everyone to the same standard. I wish I could say I came to this realization in a cool and calm manner. What actually happened, was my daughter pointed out I ALWAYS highlighted her missed words in a disappointed tone...while she ugly cried. I felt terrible, but she was right. I wasn't disappointed in her, it was in myself. I wish I had her tested for dyslexia and the like sooner, but listened to the educators/teachers who told me she wasn’t applying herself. Because of my unprocessed guilt, I was rushing her progress, sabotaging both of us.
Bouncing through reading, while wearing a pigeon wrap and living her best life.
I apologized, acknowledged that my impact did not match my intentions. While on a curriculum break, I came up with systems that work for everyone in the family a majority of the time. For example, I stopped stressing our daughter out about reading in a chair. She has a lot of energy so reading on a bouncy ball has helped. I let her take bounce breaks, often while she wears a costume, singing at the top of her lungs. Sometimes she only focuses for 20 mins of the lesson, others she wants to read for 45 mins. I go with it. My initial goal was for her to read. Since changing my behavior, she is an emerging reader and loves reading.
Dear caregivers, if you suspect your kiddo learns differently then what the standard is….trust that.
I am not sponsored by All About Learning, I am just happy this program exists and I hope to save other families the heartache.
Like grown-ups, kids are also stressed and anxious about everything going on in the world. We were experiencing meltdowns and regressive behaviors. While understandable, it was not sustainable. We allowed them to be upset, there were several angry ugly cries over not going to the pool, why the library was closed, how the museum trips were canceled this summer, and their absolute hate for the coronavirus. While not the same as hours at the pool, rummaging through the stacks, or for the thousandth time looking at odd bugs, I allowed them to plant whatever they wanted in the garden. They helped with budgeting, garden design, building, planting, and harvesting. We had an entire STEAM curriculum by combining agriculture and entrepreneurship. I practiced therapeutic horticulture mindfulness with them while I introduced them to entrepreneurship.
Our Spring 2020 STEAM Program
Harvesting as much as we could the day before the storm
We engaged our kids appropriately into Hampden Farms operations. They were part of budgeting meetings and were encouraged to help problem-solve where appropriate. They worked with us through a grant application and saw more of what the family business is. While we didn’t win (runner up), they learned more just through the process. The kids got to see my disappointment and I allowed them to have theirs. Just because you weren’t successful the first time doesn’t mean you stop; we continued to apply to grants. We took the lessons from every grant and applied them to the next, several grants later we were successful (WeWork Grant For Black-owned Businesses).
Veterans In Residence - WeWork x Bunkerlabs 2019
At the beginning of the season, I said yes to anything related to farming and food justice unsure of where the year was headed; I quickly became overwhelmed. It took me a minute to get balance again but I adjusted and learned where/how to invest my time and effort and amplify messages. I also had to adjust what I considered a successful first production year at Hampden Farms.
Ultimately, I define success the way many farmers do: Identifying the missed opportunities and learning the lessons from this season to achieve all the potentials for next season.
I look forward to continuing to share what we learned this year
A day before the storm
The day of the freeze
The day after