“Now, more than ever, we parents can Educate for Life” by Olimpia Tardá
We all need great flexibility and adaptation skills to get used to coping with the confinement we have been forced into. For most families it is a great challenge, combining teleworking, household tasks and chores, the kids’ online school and their homework… it can all become extremely complex. And house isolation happened from one day to the next, with no time to prepare. Further, handling one of the greatest challenges of this situation, of not being able to spend time with friends, kiss and hug our loved ones, share laughter and walks and going out with friends and loved ones… How do you explain to a child who finishes a normal school day on Friday afternoon that he cannot go back to school on Monday to see his teachers and classmates, that he cannot go play in the park on the weekend, and cannot have lunch with his grandparents on Sunday?
‘The essence of the Montessori education is to help children develop and help them to adapt to any condition the present may require of them’ (María Montessori).
Today, this sentence popped into my head because it perfectly sums up what we as parents have to do – as the educators that we are – to help our children adapt to the situation that we all have to get through.
However, from our present surroundings and ambience, and from this historic and tremendous situation humanity is experiencing together, we can take extremely valuable lessons and knowledge. I am not referring to academic contents – that naturally are important and must be born in mind – as education should not be the sole aim during this transcendent time, because right now we can teach our children things that are much more important for their futures.
Now, more than ever before, as parents we can educate our kids for life. Helping them to express their feelings and to give them a name, being right there next to them in their rage, frustration and fears… where being with them means listening to them and validating them (I understand that you are feeling that). However, we shouldn’t try to solve their problems or heed their every request just because we feel it is what is best.
Communicating and talking to them, giving them the space and time to let them tell us about it, doing chores and household tasks together that they can help us with and feel useful, letting them resolve Little everyday difficulties on their own, make their own decisions, make mistakes and accept them, create or negotiate new solutions to problems, and tolerate boredom. Nothing is going to happen if a child is bored, and it may even give him or her the right frame of mind to come up with a brilliant idea.
All of this will make them stronger and more resilient human beings, with the capacity to overcome adverse circumstances. Resilient people recover faster from hardships and are more emotionally balanced in stressful situations. At this time when the only thing we can control is our home and those living in it with us, I invite you to think about what is most important right now for you as a family. Often – as Antoine de Saint-Exupéry said in his book The Little Prince – it is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eyes.