Teaching and Practicing Empathy as Homeschoolers During Covid-19

It all seemed like a dream. Countries across the world closed schools because of Coronavirus. Overnight many parents started to get a glimpse of what it must be like to homeschool their kids. Hilarious and sometimes sad memes started popping up of parents voicing their frustrations as well as adult jokes of alcohol being used to teach fractions and multiplication.

Homeschool parents gloried in the fact that now others were forced to do what we have chosen to do as well as in the fact that once seen as a cultishly weird practice, is now commonplace in the majority of households simply because of Covid 19.

using alcohol to teach time at home

As an educator who has taught in both traditional and non-traditional learning settings, what I find is missing majorly in both learning places is empathy. We often forget that while learning Math, Literacy, Science, Art and the like are important (and they are), we are not trying to produce a bunch of brilliant tyrants that cause more pain to humanity.

In this season, where people are trying to figure out their “new normal” some are trying to figure out where their next meal is coming from while others are grieving the loss of a loved one. Let’s include the practice of empathy in our learning environments.

TCS Student Admiring Art

Rather than take on an, “I told you so” kind of stance, here are some ways to practice empathy and kindness while at home

  1. Keep Current:

Take a verified course on Covid-19 that stays away from conspiracy. Check out Coursera for an Updated Course on Covid-19 here.

2. Choose a theme

Choose a theme per week on a virtue word that you can work on together. There are so many to choose from: Love, Peace, Kindness, Sharing, Friendship, Acceptance, Harmony…the list goes on and on. Create activities that include songs, art and ways to practically express these virtues. Have the children journal and share their thoughts together as a family.

TCS Student Gardening

3. Give Back

Is your family safe? Healthy? Do you have food in your cupboards? If so then you are soaring during this time.  Remind your family that these are privileges that some do not have right now.  Discuss how you can either get involved with a charity that is doing good work in vulnerable communities or discuss ways to do acts of service as a family (while maintaining social distancing) that supports your community or vulnerable individuals.

Yoga Heart Kenya donating to an orphanage

4. Look on the Bright Side

Research and discuss the positive sides that Coronavirus has had on the world e.g. less car emission globally, the increase in animal sightings, dolphins swimming where the water was once too polluted, families spending more time with each other…the list goes on and on. Try to immerse yourself in these beautiful, positive stories to remind yourself that even in the darkest situations there is light.

5. Keep the Schedule and Give them a Break

And as we educate ourselves rather than overwhelm ourselves with current events while practicing empathy in our daily lives and giving back to the community, keep the homeschool schedule as a way to keep stability in the home. So much has changed in the world and stability is needed, while at the same time giving your children and others extra grace during this time is warranted. Some children may experience more anxiety and not know how to express it. Parents may be stressed more than usual due to financial worries. Expecting the best grades right now is a fictional tale but so much learning of the heart can take place if we allow ourselves and our children to experience this.

Dad hugs son

Let’s continue to learn and grow and in doing so, let’s strive to be the best examples of kindness that the world needs right now. So that when this is all over, many will remember us because we were available to meet the needs of the community. And to me, that is the best example of learning anywhere-creating learners who are able and available to solve real world problems. And right now, that is just what our communities need.

Apart, we stand together.
For Mental Health Support contact Befrienders Kenya.

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