Helping our Kids Grow Online

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For anyone with kids, the last few weeks have been extremely challenging. While we all love our children and want to help them in any way that we can, having them at home, in “close quarters” is not so easy. Every parent is trying to give their kids the support that they need, but there are times when as parents, we find ourselves wondering when our kids are going to get the heck out of the house and leave us alone.

If, however, we can come to the realization that for some at least, this may not happen for a while, we are left with figuring out how to make the best of the current situation. We want our children to learn and to expand their skills, but at the same time, this can be a tall order, especially when we cannot enjoy the same mobilities that were available to us a few weeks ago. Yet, if we as parents can channel our patience and perhaps a bit of creative thinking, we can turn this unfortunate situation into a positive learning experience for the entire family.

Over Passover, as we were sitting down to yet another meal with just us, I started to tell my two teenage sons how their father (me) became a varsity athlete in high school. My kids know most of my strengths and weaknesses, and while I do try to exercise every now and then, sports have never been my thing. So, when I told them that I was a varsity athlete they were extremely skeptical to say the least. I explained that when I was a 9th grader at Beth Tfiloh in Baltimore, back in 1992, the school only had 70 students in the entire building. Because of the small number of students, anyone who wanted to be an athlete, was not only invited, but was encouraged to take part.

So, when my friend was trying to find 4 volunteers to join the school’s Cross-Country team, I figured why not? I would get to miss a ton of class, and my parents would stop nagging me to exercise. As an added plus, running required little to no coordination and there was no chance that I could disappoint my teammates. So, this is how I became a varsity athlete. I actually ended up running for three years and winning a trophy in the process.

My kids still don’t believe that this happened, but my adventure into competitive sports brings up an important point. There I was in an environment where I had an opportunity to try something new without peer pressure and even without expectations. My attempt to run cross country could have been an epic disaster but instead it provided me with the chance to go outside of my comfort zone and to try something that I would never have otherwise attempted.

All of us frustrated parents with annoying kids constantly awaiting their next meal have a similar opportunity. While our children are hopefully participating in their school’s online learning programs, this is a perfect time to think about other activities and interests can be developed even from home. There are online resources out there for all kinds of activities, including lessons in musical instruments, singing, foreign languages, art, and more. In the typical school environment, students can sometimes be apprehensive about engaging in these types of activities. Whether because of shyness, peer pressure, or just a lack of time, it is often difficult to start new activities. By taking advantage of our online resources however, we can really help our kids find and develop those hidden inner talents. My company was just approached by three friends who have always wanted to learn ASL (American Sign Language). They will be working with a teacher starting next week to develop this new skill. The possibilities for online learning are virtually unlimited.

Yes, they are still going to be at home most of the time and yes, sometimes we will all be picturing our children heading back to their bus stops. In the meantime, though, we have an opportunity to help our kids to develop their inner talents and abilities. If I can be a varsity athlete, anything is possible!

About the Author
Aryeh Eisenberg is the CEO and General Manager of Bonim B'Yachad, an online education technology provider for schools and individuals. Based in Israel, Bonim B'Yachad works with students all over the world.
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