The last day of school in March was like any other day.  I sat in the tiniest chairs with kiddo’s teachers laughing about our deep need for Trader Joe’s apple pie while she romped around with her friends, big piles of giggling preschoolers.  But I had this feeling when we left … are we not coming back tomorrow?

And we didn’t.

That didn’t crush me then.  Because I didn’t know.  But it does now.

We were so gutted in those early weeks that, “She’s not learning anymore!” But then one bright-eyed morning, she leaps into my face with the silliest, toothy grin and exclaims, “I brushed my teeth!”

“You what?  What, all by yourself?”

“Yes! With my Princess Toothpaste!” Cue even sillier, toothier grin.

Um … I didn’t teach her that.  I mean, I tried.  But, she’s four. ..and I still don’t know where that came from!

And when I started looking for it, I saw learning all around!  We spent time on my parents’ farm (our tiny little #quaranteam), and she learned to love catching toads and getting crawled on by fireflies.  She made friends with the dogs, which she had been terrified of, and learned they have feelings (ever think not knowing that is why she was afraid in the first place?). She runs around hitting random objects and announcing their materials … “Concrete!  Steel!  Plastic!”  (Haha, okay, yes, that’s strange.)

All that tablet?  Seriously, where has Daniel Tiger been all her life?  “You gotta try new foods cuz they might taste good!” is the ever-getting-improvised-and-embellished song at every dinner now.  Wild Kratts and Octonauts have made her a formidable Animal Guessing Game opponent.  

Despite all the shake-up, all the unexpected and unconventional turns in her educational landscape, she’s turning into a little lady.  

It turns out, kids are always learning.  Whether they’re in school or not, whether we’re trying or not, they are observing and obsessing and absorbing because that’s just who they are

And for me, that gave me overwhelming hope.

So now I’m locked in … it’s time for unexpected and unconventional learning!  What out-of-the-box things can she learn right now just because she’s home?  And what tools do I have access to right now just because we’re all home?

Here’s the plug!  Because there’s a very special music class called Sweet Potato Music in Los Angeles that used to be just for local kids.  But now, it’s online, so now, everyone can take it.  (And if you are local, Founder Leah Paul has an outdoor, socially-distanced “hula hoop” version!)

Leah is a (very) professional musician, and she started teaching classes for ages 0-5 to teach her own little such advanced concepts as pitch center, intervals, and solfege.  Have you ever seen an 18 month old do solfege with perfect pitch to a xylophone?!  Um, yeah.  She writes all her own music to rival the stickiest nursery rhymes, and teaches it all while the kids just be kids, gumming the shakers and rolling around like all musical little gigglers should.

NBC checked them out, and you should, too.  In the comments, tell us about the unique opportunities you’ve discovered for teaching during this crazy time.  

We can all be teachers: we moms and dads, the other parents in our homeschooling pods, awesome classes coming online for the first time, even those darn tablets.  When we all come back together again … our kids probably won’t all have learned the same things.  That’s a little scary.  They’re going to need extra time and extra hugs (us, too) to even get back out, master every math table, and read every grade-level book.  

But, it doesn’t mean they weren’t learning at all.  And in fact, they’re learning a lot.  And maybe, hopefully, I believe, they’re learning novel things that are special and worthy and the foundation for lifelong interests we couldn’t have imagined for them before.

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