Could, Would, Should

Education and Parenting through COVID-19: Navigating the Coulds, Woulds and Shoulds.

I am a parent and an educator. Many of my friends are also parents and/or educators. This has not escaped the algorithms of social media – so I get a steady stream of posts, stories, webinar offers, online courses and lengthy commentaries about how we could, would and should be managing our children’s education during this time.

If those weren’t enough to navigate… then, come the questions, conversations and predictions about when schools will be back in session, and what it could, would and should look like.

It doesn’t take long to find the spectrum of thought running from imposing strict homeschool schedules that keep your child 100% on track academically, to suggesting we release all expectation of academic routine and focus 100% of our attention on our child’s social and emotional wellbeing.

We can find people who think schools should open today, to others who argue that we should stay closed until the fall, or even for 12-18 months to avoid the second wave.

I can quickly become overwhelmed in these types of conversations. I especially react poorly after subconsciously heaping expectations on myself about all the things that I could, would or should be doing – as a good parent and a good teacher!

There are many amazing ideas out there that are actually worthy of consideration and pursuit – but, none of us can keep up with all of them! Our families, kids and classes, are all different. The best idea for your family or class, might not be the best idea for mine. But, it can be hard to discern that while still knee deep in the sea of information and conversation!

So, how do we manage it all?

In any other season, I’d likely be limiting my own exposure to social media, just to maintain my sanity. I might even call a full social media fast. But, with the reality of mandatory isolating and distancing, social media is a relational lifeline. I can’t just turn it off.

So, here’s the general frame that I’m using to navigate all of this for myself:

First, I choose to remember that my wisdom needs to come from God and not from the opinions of others online. James 1:5 (ESV) says “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” The very first thing I need to do when faced with all the coulds and woulds and shoulds is to stop and ask God to give me wisdom.

Second, I chose to remember that the very same God who says to train our children well, also says to not exasperate them! (See Proverbs 22:6Ephesians 6:4Colossians 3:21). So, I need to do my best to parent well and set good standards, but also not push my child to the point of exasperation in this already stressful season. The balance of academic achievement and social/emotional well-being will look different for each child. I need to find the right mix in my own parenting.

Finally, I need to only worry about today! Matthew 6:34 (ESV) says “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” I don’t need to engage in a lot of worry or stress about what might come. Truthfully, we don’t know what’s coming next and for me, engaging in a series of “what ifs” isn’t helping me navigate today well. It’s only making me preemptively anxious. In fact, it is distracting me from the issues that I really do need to address today.

So, my friends… the irony is not lost on me that I am adding another voice in the sea of information and communication around parenting and education in this season. SO, I’m going to be very intentional in not suggesting that you could, would or should approach any of this in the same way I do. But, if you find any of this helpful, please feel free to adopt a similar strategy. We are all in this together, but no one journey is going to look exactly the same. My hope is that you find wisdom, grace and peace in this season!

Kathryn Higginbottom