We recently have been flooded with requests from schools seeking counseling services for their students who are doing distance-learning. This got me thinking, "Is it really distance learning that is the cause of all this emotional chaos?" Then I began to envision what it must be like to be a teenager today...
Kids went to school to socialize and learn. Some were the jocks or campus politicians who were career and university bound. Some went to escape the difficulties at home. Often, they came home after school and went into their rooms where they found escape from any fights their parents might have. They could tolerate their siblings annoyances through putting on their earbuds and ignoring all that went on outside their bedroom doors. They could meet up with their friends, hangout during breaks and some even got high during lunch. They had a routine that worked for them.
Students cannot escape the constant watching, interacting, and oversight of their parents. They have no social contact with their peers beyond their computers. There is no sports and no idea how they will progress on to college or careers. Their room has become a prison they cannot escape. Their parents are out of work and the bickering never stops. If there was domestic violence or abuse in the home they are subject to it 24/7. They have no escape through their old devices and are left feeling anxious and depressed because they are powerless to change their circumstances. Add to all this they now have to rely on their parents for their education. Most parents are not prepared to be teachers and don't want to have to learn the necessary tools to teach their children. Often, the parents are escaping into bottles of booze, smoking pot, and increasing their antidepressants. This means the kids are on their own to figure it all out. Parents shame them into compliance by reminding them that it is THEIR fault if their grades drop. No wonder they are anxious and depressed. All the responsibility and no power or control.
So, here's one solution some communities are coming up with. They developed a "Co-op" (short for cooperative) of homeschool educators. Some parents are good at math and are taking the kids in the co-op under their wing to guide them through the challenges of math. Some are better with reading and language arts. Some are better at home economics and are teaching them cooking and sewing. Some are good with art and are teaching them painting and drawing. One couple teaches automotive "classes." Amazingly, these families have found a way to unite as a community and come together to teach their children collectively and their experience is both positive as well as successful. The kids grades are improving, they are excited to learn again, and the parents feel supported by others who have the skills the parents lack. Anxiety and Depression is decrease as stress-levels fall for both parent and student.
How do you start a cooperative in your community? The USDA Rural Development has a document that outlines what a co-op is and how to form one in your community. Basically, if there is a need (and their defiantly is one in education) and there are consumers (yep) you have the basics to start a co-op. Download the document here.
This is one way to accomplish the goals of distance-learning and truly brings the community together to positively make change for all. This truly is the "It takes a village" mentality and it is working.