Homeschooling After the Hurricane

Family Matters on 11.13.12

Image: Ania Coats

Living on Long Island through the largest recorded Atlantic hurricane on record has been a humbling experience for me. Despite being spared the worst of the destruction, the effects of the storm have been acutely felt by our most precious resource, children. What has been a traumatic for many adults, has been even more devastating for kids.

For a child, seeing their favorite playground underwater or a friend's home demolished by downed trees can feel very overwhelming. Not only did my daughter see both of those, but she also waited with me on long gas lines, walked by the empty shelves at the grocery store, and slept through cold nights without heat. 

Homeschooling has offered us a unique opportunity to incorporate lessons about weather, natural disasters and how to cope with the aftermath of these events. In the days following the storm, my family moved into action trying to directly help restore the lives of those around us, and in doing so, bring a sense of peace back to our lives too. Our plan included helping our neighbors, our community, and our environment. Here is what our plan looked like in action.

1. Our neighbors. Living without power for seven days with kids is super fun -- at least for the first few days. You can play board games, read by candlelight, and watch movies on your fully-charged portable DVD player. But when we decided that helping our neighbors was one of our goals post-Sandy, we quickly realized how many people on our block are single, elderly, or empty-nesters who were looking for some company. We went door to door, checking in with our neighbors and inviting them over to play games at night. It was such a blessing spending time with people who live so close to us, but with whom our normally busy life doesn't often allow for. 

2. Our community. Seeing photos of homes just miles from us so severely impacted by the storm intensified our desire to help. But with two young children at home, I couldn't just leave the kids to roll up my sleeves and pitch in with physical labor. Instead we helped by sorting through boxes of clothing in the attic and pulling out the best winter hats, gloves, coats, and clothing we could find. We dropped these off with a friend who would be making the trip the shelters housing our fellow Long Islanders. Knowing that we could pitch in helped my family feel that we were doing our part to help those in need.

3. Our environment. Trash from the storm litters our streets and beaches, and guess who's putting on gloves to help clean up? We are! Taking my kids to our local beach to pick up the garbage swept on shore by the storm is part of our effort to put back the pieces of our community and our lives. Inviting local friends from our homeschooling community to join us helps us all to bond together in what has and will continue to be a true test of the spirit of Long Island.

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