While it appears that chaos lurks in every corner of the world during the COVID-19 crisis, Kyle and Erin Brown and their two daughters, Anne and Brynne, took it all in their stride, cracked a few jokes, and prevented a potential parental total freak-out moment. They calmly developed a solution, worked together as a family, and realized the power of pod learning. Kyle and Erin give us all a little moral support during this kooky time, showing that even a catastrophic global pandemic couldn’t deter a couple of chill parents from giving their kids the best-fit learning experience for them.
It all started only a few weeks ago when school districts around the country were attempting to put into place a safe alternative to in-person schooling. Intrigued, the Browns were initially given a few choices: a hybrid-learning option (students attending class in-person two days per week) OR the 100% virtual-learning option. Ultimately, Erin’s alternatives quickly diminished. “Within a matter of weeks, the hybrid option was taken away and we were forced to comply with the 100% distance-learning option,” she recalls in frustration, “or seek other arrangements for my children’s schooling.”
When You Wanna Chill with Your Friends
Because Erin and Kyle realized they were in a similar predicament as most of their friends, they “holla-ed” at them, in Erin’s own vernacular. “We joked about forming an underground homeschooling ring in which we all share some of the responsibility for our children’s education,” Erin explains, thinking back to how quickly it evolved. The joking tone washed away quickly and the Browns found themselves taking the comfortable candor of those friendly conversations and developing a legit plan for a learning pod.
The momentum carried them away before they could have a second thought. Four families, eight kids, and two previously retired teachers later… and Erin and Kyle have established they’re “too-cool-for-traditional school.” The learning pod features a tight-knit learning environment of both young and old, and an exciting new way to learn. For the couple’s daughters, it has meant getting to see their friends and socializing with kids of all ages in a safe learning environment. Erin hopes her design works as planned and “the 5th graders come alongside the younger students to offer help, while the younger students bring new energy and excitement to learning.”
In the End, Everything Will Be OK
Remaining stoic, positive, and full of grace, Kyle and Erin understand the issues that parents are facing with back-to-school options. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to problem-solving, and—this being a brand-spanking-new situation we all have to live through—the Browns offer some advice that could do us all a lot of good. “Don’t be afraid to listen to your gut, pray, and take charge of your child’s education,” suggests Erin, “in whichever way you feel led.” She concludes with perhaps the most important note. “Kids are resilient,” she posits, “more resilient than you may know …”
So instead of feeding into the panic, confusion, frustration, and fear, give yourself and each other a break, man. If traditional school is overwhelming, breathe. If you’re feeling limited, stop and get creative. If your feeling like your learning environment isn’t quite right, try something different.
Do your research. Find other mom or dad friends to chill with. Learn about pod schooling, and how you can limit interaction and confine the spread of germs, yet still allow your kids to mingle. Because, in the end, Erin says, “They WILL survive this and their education will recover. Ask for help if you need it.”