This year (2020) has been challenging for everyone, and as we're still in the midst of this pandemic, and coming up to an incredibly important election next month (please vote!), I always try to look on the bright side of things.
But that's been hard.
There's been so much pain and suffering, and just as one challenge seems to subside, another one emerges to remind us of just how bad this year has been.
But, although it's been tough, I have seen some good things come out of this. There are indeed things to be grateful for.
For me, I'm grateful for more time together as a family. I'm grateful for having started a garden together and nurturing and tending to it every single day. This has, consequentially, gotten the kids to eat more vegetables, too. Definitely a good thing.
I'm grateful for The Income Stream, my daily morning show on YouTube that wouldn't have happened without the pandemic to encourage me to go live. I'm grateful for my businesses continuing to survive, and the team that continues to expand as we lean into serving more and more people during these troubled times.
One area of life that's been really challenging relates to our kids, and in particular, their schooling. Our kids are in 2nd and 5th grade, and April and I have daily conversations about their education and whether or not staying at home and learning virtually is better, or if it makes sense to send them back to learn in person during this time. Their school district, after careful thought, has given parents the option to keep kids at home and learn virtually, OR send the kids back to school. The in-person situation is just a half-day right now, with incredibly strict safety procedures in place, of course.
Learning in person is obviously better than learning online. The immediate feedback from a teacher, and the ability to connect and collaborate with others is just so much stronger when not on Zoom, and plus, the kids absolutely miss their friends.
On the other hand, at home, we know the kids are safe, and we know the kids are comfortable, too. They have quick access to good food and fun projects, and thankfully, both kids seem to be doing well when it comes to their education. But still, this is not the life a kid should be living. I'm hoping this temporary solution will be over sooner than later.
With that said, there's one particular life skill that I've noticed the kids have seemed to pick up as a byproduct of their Zoom-based education:
The skill of time management.
They Don't Teach This Stuff in School
From elementary school through all of high school, it was all about the bell for us. When the bell rang, that's when school started, and as long as we were on campus, there wasn't much effort to get to where we needed to go, and to get there on time.
The bell would ring again, and then we'd all get up and move to our next destination, whether that's recess, lunch, our next class, or back home.
We were on auto-pilot as students, and it really wasn't until college that I finally had to learn how to manage my own time – that I was personally now responsible for where I was, and when.
With distant learning in place, thankfully, the kids aren't in front of their screens for several hours straight. That would be ludicrous. Because of this, there are more breaks for self-learning and more opportunities for more shorter class gatherings throughout the day with specific start times that feel very similar to appointments and meetings that we have as adults, or the classes that we took in college. Plus, with Zoom, there's a bit of added pressure of not wanting to be the only one absent, which keeps the kids on top of the clock, and making sure to show up on time.
We choose to give this responsibility to them.
Without asking often, the kids, on their own, get ready for class when needed. If it's lunch time, they know exactly how much time they have left before they need to get back on a call, and they give themselves enough time to put dishes away, clean up after themselves, and head into their learning spots in the house.
This wasn't easy at the start, and that's okay. In the beginning, April and I had to make sure the kids understood the consequences of not showing up on time, on their own. It's one thing to say “you'd better get ready or else you'll be late!”, but it hits home when our kids actually experience being late. That only happened a few times up front. After a couple of weeks, it became apparent that their relationship with time has changed, and it's been incredible to witness.
They're learning real life lessons and not having to wait until they're 18 for these experiences and opportunities to happen. I'll happily give up that perfect attendance award for that.
Time management is a real-world skill, and things like this should absolutely be taught to children at an early age, in my opinion. That, along with money management, creative problem solving, collaboration, presentation skills, and other soft skills, are all things I feel are important for kids to learn that will best prepare them for the future. We definitely need to work on this as a country, and in the world.
There's a line with time management, obviously. We don't want to be drill sergeants about it or quite as time-obsessed as Tom Hanks' character in Cast Away, but I think we all want our kids to take ownership and responsibility of their time, and understand how management of their time affects other people around them, too.
The pandemic has been tough, but as we all know, the things that tend to break us down can actually, if we want it to, make us stronger. I'm grateful for this opportunity for the kids to learn a skill that will prepare them for whatever comes their way in the future.