One week ago we were self-isolating in Vermont, taking a couple daily breaks to walk to the Statehouse lawn to throw the frisbee and get a little exercise and sunshine.
Last night the snow started falling and now there's 6 inches of snow on the ground. It is still March, after all.
So today my son declared a snow day.
I'm lucky that I have a part-time job that allows me to be flexible and make my own hours and work from home. We're very lucky. Privileged, really. Our work is non-essential for non-profit organizations. No one will go unfed, unhoused, or be put at risk if we miss a few hours or a day of our work.
Everyday is a snow day now.
But I thought about how my homeschooling was going, and what we might be missing. Literacy, vocabulary, and math exercises sent from school, journal writing, special projects we've determined would help focus his self-education.
My son declared all the things he wanted to do on the snow day- sleep in, make crafts, build a PinBox 3000, listen to audio books, read, play in the snow.
I realized I wanted that snow day too. To spend time with him, to make him laugh, to love him in this strange time we're now in. I needed it actually.
And I know that others won't be that lucky to decide to take a snow day too.
Did I owe it to his education to continue the structure that we've only been able to maintain for one week?
Luckily, my employer allows me to work from home on a flexible schedule. I'm part-time as digital media coordinator for Goddard College, a small but passionate progressive education institution. I'm also an alum. For decades Goddard students have held this mantra as one of its central tenets of learning:
Everything is Curriculum
It's true now more than ever.
Essential learning is happening with or without the structure of a school day. A snow day was a chance for immersive projects that teach creative thinking, grit, collaboration, real-world literacy and math, home skills and physical fitness.
Bless the teachers and their willingness to reach out to the kids and to provide them with resources. They miss the kids and their work is inspired by the challenge of teaching in ways that accommodate all types of learning. They have testing to keep in mind and are restricted in so many ways because of it. In so many ways, the teachers are also being tested everyday and the pressure on them is so immense, I can't imagine how hard it is.
Teachers are heroes and deserve to be compensated as such. They deserve a snow day too.
I'm a teaching artist, after-school educator, the CEO of a small business, a part-time employee, and a very involved parent. I love my work and I take it seriously. I usually wake up and look at my schedule. But I can't do it all right now. There's a lot going on, and I need to change my expectations about the way my kid is "supposed to learn". A family can't possibly work toward any standardized proficiencies in the state of a national emergency.
So, it's a snow day until further notice.
The plows are out scraping snow into piles this morning. The delivery trucks are sliding down the icy hills into town. They have to do that. I'm grateful for them.
My role right now is to not be out there. We have to stay home. You'll find us collaborating on a snowman, building cardboard pinball, playing board games, making lunch.
Until all this blows over and beyond.
Because we have to, and luckily for us everything is curriculum.
Ben t. Matchstick is a community-based artist and educator in Montpelier Vermont. He is the digital media coordinator for Goddard College and CEO of Cardboard Teck, makers of the PinBox 3000.
Open-ended and hands-on, the PinBox3000 brings maker excitement and game design into every household classroom!