Relearning How To Play

Relearning How To Play

Setting the Scene

Monday March 12, 2020 7:48 PM

We are provided an email from Fairfax County Public School district informing us that schools will remain open despite closures in other districts. They are monitoring the pandemic closely and will inform us of any changes.

Monday March 12, 2020 11:41 PM

Due to increasing concerns from parents and because of the increasing number of schools closing in surrounding districts, Fairfax County Schools will close.

I am sharing these messages for two reasons:

  1. Our district (Fairfax County) has been incredible about keeping us informed, even if the decisions effecting all of their community members change from one moment to another.
  2. We have been closed for three weeks and have recently been informed that we will stay closed for the remainder of the school year.

What We Have Learned

In our first three weeks home we have learned a lot,  mostly from our children, albeit indirectly!

Our 2019/2020 dynamic was new this year because I started homeschooling our 3rd grade son while my daughter (5th grade) was still in the public school system. For obvious reasons, my son was used to having me to himself, and now has to adjust to his sister being home.

Meanwhile, my daughter was grieving the loss or her class and trying to figure out where she fits into our daily routine.  It literally brings me to tears knowing she will not finish out her year with her classmates and teacher: Mrs. Malave we love you!!!

While school has been a focus, it has not been our primary focus. Our primary focus has been on their relationship with one another. We strongly encourage them to support one another and to be each other’s teammate, even if it means ganging up on us. We ask them to put one another ahead of all others, including us.

Someday, my husband and I will no longer be here and we want to know that they have each other’s back. That they will always have each other’s back! This adjustment to home has been hard for them. Before we can successfully navigate academics, I want to know that they are comfortably supported by each other.

A bi-product of this approach has been an explosion of toys and creations in our home. Their relational growth is birthing an invasive species covering our floors and walls. I am generally a neat and organized person, but I have sacrificed my desire for order to support their interpersonal development.

Our Invasive Species Include:

  • Lego City on the stairs
  • Museum wall that cannot even house all of their coloring pages
  • Developing new board games with magnetiles and other game pieces
  • Christmas decorations adorning our cabinets
  • "Fort"ress in our dining room complete with a second story (our dining table with a foam mattress on it)
  • Personal dining area for them outside their fort

Re-learning How To Play

While this may seem like an impossible approach for some, the results have been incredible!

My children are re-learning how to play together. They are discovering more about one another, learning how to change their words and actions to support one another, giving into each other's ideas, and making decisions about what to do as a team. They are accomplishing chores together without arguing (something that was always a struggle for us) and have begun to prioritize play over screens.

Best of all, when they are content with one another we have more time to work!

Things are by no means perfect. But, while we are stuck inside and know we cannot welcome friends in, we are content letting our children take increased ownership of our space for the sake of their relationship and our work.