Virtual Learning & Letting Go of Expectations

As we gear up for online learning, I’ve had to step back and stop putting all my expectations on my son’s upcoming Kindergarten experience. Because at the end of the day, he will have nothing to compare it to and my attitude matters more in his life than my judgment of his experience.

In March, when COVID-19 came roaring into our lives, I pulled my son out of his beloved preschool. I journaled in the days and weeks that followed, and it is resonating so loud for me right now as we prepare our family for a virtual Kindergarten experience with our first born.

“Yesterday was our last day of preschool. Kindergarten will most likely start virtually in the fall in whatever way that will look but, in this moment, our 5-year-old has officially moved through his Pre-K years.

There wasn’t a graduation, although there was one planned. There wasn’t a trip to his favorite restaurant, Benihana. There wasn’t even that pool party he so badly wanted to have await him at the finish line. There was just us.

We took the honorary last day of school picture with his chalkboard sign complete with his favorite activity, coloring book. If you look close at the top of his chalkboard is a little note that says “School:@home.”

We chatted about what it means to “graduate” and about his school friends he hasn’t seen now for months.

I then had a crazy idea to tell him how even moms and dads get overwhelmed and anxious, but if we keep taking small steps forward, we can always do our best and most of the time something really good will come out of it.

We then had a moment where time completely stopped. We locked eyes and I shared with him I’d never been through a pandemic either, never needing to don a mask when we are out and about. That it was all new for me, too. We were experiencing this life for the first time, together.

I asked him if he remembered the day when mommy took over as teacher and we had to stop going to our school. “Of course,” he said. “Yes, that was the day we watched otters on your computer.” He was referring to the San Diego Otter Cam we watched almost that entire first week when I thought for sure this was just a little blip and we’d be back in school in no time.

I shared with him how anxious I was and nervous and a little overwhelmed because mommy wasn’t used to being the teacher. I don’t know if it stuck but I think it’s really important to make sure our kiddos know that mommies and daddies experience emotions bigger than themselves too. He’s five, and he understood. After that, he asked to watch Paw Patrol and for a bowl of oranges. I obliged but not before I gave him a hug I might just remember forever.

Digging deep for patience and making sure we were “keeping his smarts in” (his words, not mine) is my goal and it is was also my greatest challenge. As we navigate into virtual learning, I hope we can come together as a community of parents and caretakers to let go of our expectations of what we think school should look like and be open to what it will be.

May we not judge another family for the choices that they make because we will never truly know the intricacies of their decisions. I hope we walk side by side in faith and love that we are making the best decisions by our families and for our families.

And one day, when this whole storm is behind us, I hope we look back proud we chose to let go of our expectations and make this ‘20-‘21 school year one to remember.

Sarah Shiplett
Sarah is a yoga teacher and stay at home mom of two beautiful darlings. Born and raised in Plano, Texas, she moved away for college at the University of Kansas. After studying journalism at KU (Rock Chalk), Sarah moved back home to attend SMU where she received a master's degree in advertising and studied abroad in India. Married in 2012 to love of her life Kyle, they took to the suburbs in Allen to start a family. She is now is a stay at home mom with her two babies, Everett Brave (two years old) and Winnie Grace (six months old). Sarah is also a registered yoga teacher (RYT-200) and teaches Vinyasa and Prenatal Yoga in the Allen and North Dallas area. Former Lululemon ambassador for Dallas, she loves being part of the yoga community and sharing the gift of yoga to people of all ages, levels, and life stages. Sarah believes she was put on this earth to be a mother, teaching her children the importance of love and kindness along the way.