by Brenda S Miles, PhD, C Psych
Clinical Paediatric Neuropsychologist
Raising children is challenging—joyous, but challenging. COVID-19 hasn’t made parenting any easier. Of course you have concerns. Protecting your family’s health is first and foremost. If you’re also concerned about learning while schools remain closed, you’re not alone. We hope this series can help.
This is the first posting from our new Possibilities Word of the Week Project. This week’s word is IGNITE. How can you ignite learning in your child or teen when schools remain closed?
You can, because the brain is an incredible thing. But before we talk brain, you might have a more pressing question. How can a single word be helpful at a time like this? Does that sound right? It’s a good question.
Single words can inspire. Single words can motivate. Single words can ignite action.
COVID-19 is a heartbreaking time for the world. But if we must find an upside, this extended break from school presents a unique and unprecedented opportunity for the brain to come out swinging. It can learn, and it’s ready to learn. So we’ll give you one word a week. You choose how to run with it.
Please trust that one word is enough—especially if your child’s school hasn’t mandated any strict on-line learning schedule required for credits. Without such mandates, one word is enough. I’m not going to suggest you draft a strict schedule for learning at home. I’m not going to tell you that 9:00 to 9:40 is Language Arts, 9:45 to 10:30 is Mathematics, 10:35 to 11:05 is French and so on. Nope. I’m not going to tell you any of that. Unless you’ve been home schooling for years with expertise in algebraic equations and conjugated verbs, ditch the expectation that you must now be a full-time teacher.
The brain is, and always will be, an amazingly curious thing. Every brain is wired to learn—no matter where it finds itself. If a brain can learn at school, it can certainly learn at home. And if you’re a parent trying to do your job remotely while caring for your house-bound children, this situation might seem impossible. But you don’t have to recreate your child’s school day to support learning.
So, what can you do?
First and foremost, all you can do is your best. If your children are safe and healthy you are doing a tremendously good job. If you are embracing your job remotely—as best you can while your family swirls around you—you are doing a tremendously good job. Feel proud and comforted by the fact that you are doing your very best.
How can the word IGNITE guide you if you have concerns about learning?
You know your child has strengths and passions—and sometimes those talents are not so visible at school. How many times have you wished a teacher could see exactly what your child is capable of beyond assigned homework? I’ve met children and adolescents at the Possibilities Clinic who struggle with math and reading, but they have tremendous talents. Some sew outfits from discarded hand-me-downs, some bake cookies and decorate cakes, some run on-line businesses, some play instruments and compose songs, some host podcasts from basement studios, and some illustrate comic books. The brain is wired to learn and ready to impress. So, ignite its strengths!
Think about what your child or teen truly loves to do. Next, follow the brain’s lead. Provide the space, time and tools to do it. A sketchbook for drawing? A book for reading? A guitar for playing? A machine for sewing? A kitchen for baking? When you follow the brain’s lead, your child or teen will be occupied for hours, driven by what truly ignites action, sustains persistence, and inspires learning. As an added bonus, the brain will probably feel pretty happy, too.
So this week, ignite! Ignite curiosity. Ignite talent. Ignite enthusiasm. Ignite possibilities. And when you emerge from your home office, step back and marvel at the awe-inspiring creations that have sprung from your child’s incredible, talented brain.
Until next week, revel in possibilities.
If you’d like to share your child’s or teen’s creations inspired by our Possibilities Word of the Week, send a story or photograph to email@example.com. It might be featured in our next post!