Homebound Letter 12 – April 22, 2020
Dear Stuck-at-Home Students:
Reality is now setting in for almost all of us. No more in-person school for the rest of the year. You’re going to attempt to finish the school year from home. From the kitchen table or your bedroom desk or the couch in the living room or maybe even the floor in the hall. You’re going to have to learn from a distance. And I want you to know, your teacher is doing everything he or she can to reach you, to keep you moving forward, to make sure you have access. Your mom and dad or grandma or caretaker is trying really hard to support you.
But I need to be honest about something. A lot of this is up to you. Doesn’t matter if you’re in 1st grade or 10th grade. If you want to do well during this time, you’ll do well. That’s how it works.
Here are a couple things I want to share with you. Celia, who teaches 1st and 2nd grade, sent me this cool graphic she has shared with all her young students. I love it and have used it with my own elementary school daughter. Maybe it will be helpful for you, too.
And did you know young people have a superpower? It’s true, it’s true! Krisvell, a parent of three elementary school-aged children, sent me the amazing photo below, which she took fifteen years ago in Cairo. What comes to mind when you look at this?
For me it’s the superpower of childhood. Here’s is this amazing Egyptian pyramid looming in the background, yet this young girl is so involved in her drawing she could be anywhere. Did you know that young people, like you, have this gift?
I figure if this superpower can work to block out something beautiful, like an Egyptian pyramid, it can work to block out something scary, too. Maybe it’s a choice. At least partly. We can either sit inside our worry about why we can’t be at school right now, or with our friends, or we can concentrate on the drawing we’re making. Or the book we’re reading. Or the math concept we’re trying to understand.
Let’s make a deal. Let’s do our best to focus (as much as possible) on the stuff we’d be focusing on if we were still going to our physical school every week day. (If you just said it’s a deal, I’m shaking your hand through the computer screen right now.)
One last thing. When I was growing up, my dad always took me, my mom, and my two sisters to the beach. He loved the beach. So we were always there. He used to say, “The beach is beautiful. And it’s free.” As a result, the ocean has always been a powerful presence in my life. It calm me down. It helps me understand that the world is bigger than whatever problem is keeping me up at night.
Well, today I took my 1-year-old son to the beach. I pushed him in a stroller down the hill, into the fancy part of town, and when we got to a cliff overlooking the water, I pulled him out so he could see. And I told him, “Migué, whenever the world is beginning to make you feel anxious, remember the calmness of the ocean. The ocean has seen everything there is to see. And still its waves come rolling onto the shore every few seconds. Before sucking back out to sea. They come rolling onto shore, then suck back out to sea.”
What is it that helps you feel calm? What helps you keep things in perspective?
Matt de la Peña
My email is firstname.lastname@example.org
(If you’ve missed any of my previous letters, I’ve collected them all on my website, mattdelapena.com.)