The current state of affairs has plunged ordinary households into an abyss of chaos, confusion, bewilderment, curiosity, and panic aka “What the hell do we do now?” Parents didn’t sign up for this “school stuff” We pay taxes and some us pay both taxes and tuition to have professionals teach our kids away from home.
It’s no longer, “I’d rather be fishing”: It’s I’d rather be at work, or the gym, or my yoga class, or, yes, Bloomingdales! Actually, I would prefer to go food shopping rather than stay home with these insatiable, selfish, grumpy, attention seeking, always hungry munchkins.
Coronavirus University is here to help if you promise never to badmouth a teacher again.
Mission Statement for CU
Equip parents to complete the 2019/2020 school year while maintaining some semblance of sanity and civility and avoiding the necessity of hiring a mental health professional. Provide at least one strategy that will ease the parenting journey parents through this pandemic, the next pandemic, the summer months, and beyond if sleep-away camp or a private school in Switzerland are not options.
Application Process and Requirements
- Must have access to a computer or someone else’s computer.
- The ability to read and write at a 6th grade level.
- Can afford a thick notebook and pencils with erasers.
- Will not weep when someone suggests to stay positive.
- Will not wince or run away when you hear “you are in charge”
- Cancelled your cleaning service if you ever had one.
- Will not hire a tutor or any other professional even if they dress in radioactive gear.
- Will not call Dr. Fauci or the CDC.
- Understand the concept of modeling.
- Firmly believe that a written plan of action is necessary and that it does not include waiting for September, an acceptance letter to a boarding school, the opening of any summer camp, near or in the next state, or waiting for grandma grandpa to show up.
If you agree to the above requirements, sign here.
Part Two-The first step
If you do not have a written plan/ blueprint that provides structure, expectations, and routines, expect chaos, confusion, and constipation. You are trying to row your boat without oars. Fly without wings. A sign in Mr. Dawson’s Mechanical Drawing class at Harrison High school read, “Plan your work; work your plan.”
If the three most important words in real estate are location, location, location, then the three most important words for your family school are routines, routines, routines. Hold on to routines like a life raft. But do not misinterpret. Routines are not translated into rigidity. They can be changed and modified by you or- if you dare- your child. What they do for you instantly is to create a structure for activities and events throughout the day, week, and month and beyond. They represent a piece of the effective parenting puzzle. The overall concept will be revealed later.
Good News/Bad News
The good news is that you already have household routines. The bad news, for some or most parents, is that your new duties as the Board of Education, superintendent of schools, principal, assistant principal, teacher, mentor, psychiatrist, psychologist, counselor, curriculum director, nurse, aide, secretary aka administrative assistant, bus driver, and maintenance supervisor may be a tad overwhelming.
Don’t fret. Don’t even call a psychiatrist. CU will save you money. Remember, there was no tuition.If none or most of the following do not exist in your household, I suggest that you move off the grid, join the Alaskan Bush People and start all over with routines like hunting for food and building an outhouse.
Routines in Place
Routines in your household already exist. Routines vary based on the age of your children. Infants and toddlers require more of your time and energy. Or maybe not. If none of the following are familiar, you may have to seek counseling and pay for it. Or abandon your family completely.
- Going to bed/napping (not you) Be consistent here.
- Waking up/ getting out of bed-This is a requirement for all healthy parents
- Hygiene-brushing teeth/ showering/ combing hair etc. (hair and nail salons may not be open. If they are, expect Black Friday crowds.
- Making beds(haha) If not, teach them.
- Tidying up their quarters and helping around the house and yard. demand
- Cooking-excellent academic exercise-language arts/math/science. And they can use it when they grow up.
- Laundry-All items for the washer and dryer must be brought to the laundry room by their owner.
- Eating breakfast, lunch, snacking, and dinner. (no booze until all kids are tucked away.
- Ordering take-out-you need a break but not every night
- Walking the dog-includes picking up his poop
- Playing outside weather permitting
- Playing inside-no fighting or throwing things.
- Watching TV or using entertainment electronics (but not in their rooms)
- Not watching TV and not using any entertainment electronics
- Family discussions
- Family disagreements
- Homework from those on-line courses
- Praying some more that your house of wordship opens soon.
- (If you have any other useful normal family routines, please send them to me at [email protected])
PS: If none of these exist in your household, I suggest you move your family off the grid, seek advice from the Alaskan Bush People, and start all over by building a shelter and locating food sources. The necessary routines will easily present themselves.
Based on your new responsibilities, the author will guide parents along their parenting journey to establish a culture of learning in your home as you raise good citizens and men and women of character.
If your household boasts even a modicum of the routines delineated in Part Two, you already have a blueprint for survival. Keep the ones you have if you are satisfied with them and haven’t yet called for the men in white coats, and lose the ones that are causing you angst as well as upsetting the dog.
While schools remained closed and distance learning rules, school work schedules and routines continue that were dictated by the school. My high school grandchildren attended to their distance learning at specific times. That’s called a routine. My college grandchildren had more freedom and choices and could choose the times they would sit in front of a computer and learn stuff unless it was a “zoom” class which has a specific time slot.
Schools and families, which are the smallest schools in America, function successfully by utilizing schedules and routines and sometimes choices like electives, sports, band, and clubs then hope that something productive happens.
If parents build their family culture on a variety of routines and schedules and sprinkle in major doses of love, kindness, common sense, high expectations, responsibility, accurate information, modeling, leadership, and nutritional food, positive outcomes will follow. Oh, prayers help too.
On to Summer Vacation
I have purposely omitted a list of the hundreds of activities that are designed to keep your kids busy doing things and learning things and getting out of your way because a little research on your part will reveal them. Books,(especially mine) internet sites, friends, and school professionals are at your fingertips. Summertime arrives with a similar set of circumstances whether you are still home with the darlings or not.
Summer routines differ from school year routines but routines are routines even if there is much more flexibility during the summer months. Depending upon how much of our society and normal way of life is available in the summer of 2020, there are a cornucopia of opportunities to learn, practice, and have fun even if there is no summer camp or sleep-away camp. Unless you opt for a daily free for all, maintain those crucial routines that adhere to your blueprint and plan to raise good healthy kids.
I won’t repeat the routines here. Review Part Two. But keep in mind that summer vacation is not a time designated to school children to forget everything, grow a beard or get a nose ring. Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to incorporate, subtlety or not so subtlety, those activities that resemble school.
Number one on the list of priorities is Language Arts: reading, writing, speaking, and listening. Some educators have added viewing to this skill group. Computers serve as learning devices as well as entertainment devices but limit screen time for all devices as recommended by the American Association of Pediatricians.
Routines that address these critical skills are a must but be flexible. Fill your house with all manner of books, magazines, church bulletins, newspapers et al. Set aside a quiet time to read sans the TV. Kids can be part of the decision but you are in charge.
Everybody, including parents, keeps a journal. This is not a diary. Journals are shared with family members. Writing will increase a child’s reading skills, English skills, and creativity, as well as present opportunities for discussion aka speaking and listening.
Other learning opportunities, personal interests, and various school subjects will emerge along the way. If day trips, vacations, library visits, are available, have fun with them. No homework, no bells, no asking permission to go to the bathroom, and no pressure. Again, think subtlety, don’t be too rigid and take your cues from your kids if you can.
Jimmy, “Mom, I don’t want to read the Wall Street Journal right now.” Mom, “OK, how about later after lunch? Or you could read something else like War and Peace.
Save plenty of time for play, doing nothing, daydreaming and working on those getting along skills.
My essay emphasizes the importance of routines which will help parents immediately execute their plans and create a saner household. But there is much more to the package of effective parenting if you expect to survive this pandemic, the next one, this summer and beyond.
There are five basic steps as presented in my latest book, The Five Commandments, that will guide you to success. Routines are a critical piece to step number 4, The Plan. But there are three steps that precede the plan and one step that follows.
- Attitude-Check your attitude at the door. You won’t survive without a positive one. Could Jim Abbot ever have become a major league pitcher with the use of only one arm? Oh, and he pitched a no-hitter. He did this with one arm and a positive attitude.
- Family Mission Statement-Don’t start a family without one. It becomes your guide post to raise life-long learners and good citizens. Hold onto it like a good job. Family mission statements coalesce your hopes and dreams for a successful parenting journey. Keep it short and simple. For example, The Romano family is committed to a family culture that is characterized by love, respect, civility, kindness, humility, responsibility, problem solving, and prayer. Record your thoughts on a poster and hang it in a conspicuous place.
- Leadership-Parents are leaders and they must think of themselves that way. Leaders inspire, encourage, teach, cooperate, get out the way when they need to, and always model the behaviors they expect from others. And they don’t lose sight of the mission. Start by building relationships with your children and your spouse that result in trust and confidence. If you don’t you won’t know what is going on.
There was a story about a mom who was surprised to discover that her son not only didn’t want to go to school but when he did go there were serious problems. She didn’t have a clue. He never confided in her. He probably didn’t trust her. Don’t let this be you.
- The Plan-Your plan is critical. You must have plan to manage, cooperate, collaborate and lead your family. The entire family will be guided by your mission statement. I only scratched the surface with the routine component but the overall plan, along with all the steps, is detailed in my latest book, The Five Commandments. theparentsolutions.com
Stay tuned for a free giveaway.
- Feedback Is the Breakfast of Champions-Ed Koch, former mayor of NYC used to shout to passersby, “How am I Doing?” I have no record of any responses but parents need feedback. And you will receive it from a variety of sources whether you want it or not.
More importantly, self-assessment is a major step if you expect to be a successful parent. When you touch that hot oven rack without the benefit of an oven mitt, your feedback is instant. When you’re preoccupied with your phone at a light that just turned green, you will get feedback from other drivers. If your household is chaotic, you will feel it.
Do these four things: 1) Keep a journal about what is going on; the good, the bad, and the ugly. Reflect on what you wrote. Compare it to the goals in your mission statement and make adjustments. 2)If you need inspiration or a pep talk, seek out those you trust and actually know something .3) Read, read, and read some more on parenting and leadership topics.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr.Casale is a state and national award-winning educator. In 1974 he was selected as the Florida Teacher of the Year, the first male teacher to receive this recognition. While serving as principal of Purchase School in Harrison, New York in 1988, his school was selected by the United States Department of Education as a National School of Excellence.
He is the author of three highly praised parenting books that offer inspiration and practical solutions His first book, Wise Up and be the Solution was published by Skyhorse Publishing and reissued in 2015.His second book-released in 2017- Family Pledge: How to Raise Life-long Learners and Good Citizens is comprised of 40 essays that will encourage , inspire and inform parents with real stories as they journey to become their child’s most important teacher and role model. His third book, The Five Parenting Commandmentstargets Christian readers and completes his parenting solutions trilogy. (He is available as speaker. Contact him at [email protected]
Contact him at [email protected]