Tips for homeschooling Passover during pandemic

I have heard that so many families are struggling with their children right now, as the coronavirus numbers climb, schools have been closed, and so many are forced to home educate during the busy Passover season.  Please forgive me if this does not relate to your specific family, as I understand everyone’s situation is different. Some families are getting a lot of work from their school, and it is overwhelming. Others get no help, which is overwhelming as well, and some are relatively okay considering the circumstances. I hope this article can relate to those of you who are feeling overwhelmed or down about the way your child’s education is going.  I hope to take some pressure off of you and ease your concerns. I am coming from a place of homeschooling my own children for the last three years. Here are a few tips I have for home-based Passover learning during these troubling times…

  1. Self-care. Always my #1 tip is to practice regular self-care, which may seem impossible, especially with Passover cleaning and prep to do.  However, it is so important for your sanity and for the sanity of your household to take a small amount of time to do something you enjoy! Self-care is selfless, because everyone benefits when you feel nurtured.
  2. Curl up together with a pile of books. Don’t underestimate the power of reading books together. Find books about Passover and read them together on the couch, in bed, or wherever is most comfortable.  In this time of shaky uncertainty, kids are in need of extra snuggles. I think many parents need this snuggle time, as well. Reading to your child accomplishes much more than you may realize.
  3. Art projects, yay or nay? If you feel up to it, go for the projects, because that is wonderful to nurture your child or children’s artistic side and give them a creative outlet!  On the other hand, if it is causing you stress because of the mess or for any other reason, then here is your validation…don’t. Take out crayons, or read instead.
  4. Utilize snack time, supper time, and bedtime as times of learning.  They are sitting quietly eating and their ears and minds are more open. This is a beautiful time to sing the 4 questions, or just talk about Passover.  Having meaningful discussions with your kid/s about G-d and Passover, and listening to the thoughts they have without correcting or judging them during meals or while they are cuddled in bed is a powerful way for them to understand and internalize this holiday season.
  5. Redefine education.  You are not a teacher, and they are not your students. Learn with your children. I have learned so much from learning with my kids, especially children’s books! You are not teaching them, but rather you are all understanding Passover and its meaning together.  Opening your own mind to learn something new can be a special way to connect to G-d together.  Ask them what they learned today (even if you’ve been with them all day, their answers may surprise you!).
  6. Your feelings matter.  If you are feeling like you are personally leaving Egypt, that feeling will permeate your daily activities and in the way you speak to your family.  If you are going through the motions day after day after day, but are not in the mood, that will shine through as well. Listening to inspiring Passover Torah classes online, or talking about the spirituality behind this holiday in a way that turns your own heart to G-d is going to add to the “Pesachdik” atmosphere of the home. This all ties in with nurturing your own spirituality and self-care, and realizing how important you are.  Not all days are perfect, but all days you are a human being that is building a stronger connection to G-d and to your family.

The main thing I cannot stress enough is that this is not the time to be thinking of what your children are lacking in their education by being out of school, or by being home with you. Everyone is exactly where they should be right now.  If making your home into a miniature school is overwhelming you, then take a step back and keep your home just that – a home. Life is so uncertain right now. Children need our love and warmth, not more assignments or schoolwork to do. You as well, need love and strength, not more pressure loaded on you.  I wish you all a happy and healthy kosher Passover, may all who need a refuah shleimah be given one speedily, and may the world see Mashiach right now.

About the Author
Chana Voola is journeying the homeschool journey with her husband and four children. She runs a YouTube channel, called Jewish Education at Home, where she shares weekly insights, family vlogs, information, and spirituality into the most important aspect of Jewish life - the home. Chana is an artist, and sells her art on society6.com/chanavoola. She also has a Masters in Social Work from Rutgers University.
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