Looking at the big picture before small picture

If your family’s experience with remote school resembles battle scenes from the movies, you are not alone. The struggle for most families is real and for some, it is brutal. If school is going smoothly in your home, be thankful! But be prepared that things change.

Let’s face it – remote learning is tough! It seems like life is out of control but we do have control of our response. Victor Frankl said, “between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” Frankl knew about adversity. A survivor of Auschwitz, he referred to this choice as the last of human freedoms.

Getting through this time with your family begins with perspective. “Focus on the big picture before we go small picture” Veteran Educator Brendan Mahan advises. “First off, be forgiving. This is a rough draft… It is a marathon, it’s not a sprint.” “Your child is likely not going to get as much work done (as they would normally), neither are you, or your boss, or anyone really. So take a breath and think about the big picture” he said.

Remote learning is about preventing learning loss and reinforcing skills. Prioritize subjects that are difficult for your child but make sure the amount of time spent on subjects is reasonable. Setting a timer and allowing a preferred activity after completing work is a great way to encourage kids to get their schoolwork done.

We need to assume everyone is doing the best that they can and we need to give each other grace. Consider priorities and then make a plan. Whatever your plan is, put relationships first.

To help gain perspective, try some time travel. Victor Frankl used time travel to picture himself speaking to students about his lessons while he was in the concentration camp. He was able to create meaning and perspective that later became a reality. When your children tell their children and others about the pandemic of 2020, what will they say they learned during this time?

It will be a while before kids realize how hard it must have been for their parents. As coach Herb Brooks once said in the face of an overwhelming challenge “great moments are born from great opportunity.” The chapter in your house is still unwritten since there are 6 weeks left in this school year. How do you want to look back on this experience? How do you want your children to remember it?

Will your children talk about their parents’ strength of character and timeless truths? Will they relate the lessons they learned? Will they share how their family became stronger, closer? Or will they recall fighting, harsh words and criticism of others?

The odds are high that this won’t be the last time your family faces adversity. How parents handle the challenges of remote learning now, will model how they handle their next challenge. Take a deep breath, and remember to put relationships first!


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