SEL Skills Articles

Homeschooling Insights from a Refugee of War

Hi Friends,

I’m sharing a post from a mother at my children’s school; she posted this on Day 1.25 of our sudden transition to “homeschooling.” I was already overwhelmed, going a little loco… and her words were a breath of fresh air! She instantly snapped me into proper perspective. 

Her message comes from a very unique point-of-view; she was a refugee, fleeing war in Bosnia as a 5th-grader. She missed a year-and-a-half of school… and she has something very important to say about what is MOST IMPORTANT right now…

I think this post will cement me as cray cray permanently but oh well… I just want to say couple things about us schooling our kids. I see so many of my Facebook friends getting on top of it immediately and creating mini-school atmosphere at home with full blown geography and history charts. Frankly, I am blown away. 

Title Image: Homeschooling Insights from a Refugee of WarBut, I also want to share that I was a kid in 1992, age 12, in fifth grade. And, just like this, end of March, beginning of April the war abruptly started and school-year was cut off. My family fled and we were refugees. Long story, but the point is I did not finish fifth grade and did not start school again until September 1993, as a 7th grader. The system was flexible and the new school in the new country was like, “Well, let’s see what happens, maybe she can catch up fast.” 

The best part is… guess who represented new school in 7th grade physics regional competition? Not the kids whose studies were uninterrupted, but the kid who did not finish 5th grade and missed 6th. Yes, that is how fast we can catch up when that young. 

Also think about all my friends who stayed behind in a war and whose whole school system, for next 4 years, consisted of dark basement/shelter rooms with a candle and some material. Guess where are they now? In great shape! Many of them are lawyers, doctors, professors… There were kids who not only missed a grade but ended up as refugees in countries whose language they do not even speak. 

This is just a message for those who are feeling foggy, exhausted, and really not up to teaching right now. YOU AND THEY WILL BE FINE. Hey, I spent a year just running around, swimming in Adriatic ocean and watching American Soap operas; Eden and Cruz from Santa Barbara were my life. My only concern in 1992 and 1993 was if Eden would wake up from coma and get back with Cruz. Then ER premiered and I saw George Clooney for the first time. I made a mission to come to USA and marry him. (We all know how that turned out…)

In all seriousness guys, do not worry. It is out of our control. What is about to happen might take weeks or months. It will get ugly at times, very stressful and exhausting. Some predict worst is yet to come.

Just saying what is the most important in coming weeks is how our children perceive us. Our children must feel very confident and safe. Of course they should be learning and reading. With all these virtual options how can they not? 

I am just saying… parents, don’t be hard on yourself! If all you can do is one hour a day, it is plenty, believe me! They are in great shape as long as they have you sane and healthy. And that is the bottom line. 

I saw kids whose parents lost their mind during war/refugee. They were in much worse shape, and still are. OUR KIDS WILL BE FINE. Our great school that fosters kindness, empathy, inclusion, love, support, self-confidence, courage is perfect base for what you want your kid to have in times like this. That, in itself, is plenty guys. Believe me. 

Hey, they forget multiplication table, guess what? They will relearn it in a second.

They are missing history material? 25-min Youtube video can do wonders nowadays and put them up to speed. My point is even if you do not “homeschool,” or cut some corners, or skip here-and-there, they will be OK… as long as you are.

Do what you can, one day at the time. 

-Ira Martin
Mother, Survivor of War, & New Best Friend to all Homeschooling Moms

March 17, 2020

My sincere appreciation to Ira for letting me post her words, exactly as she wrote them. Originally, her message was only intended for the small, familiar group of families at our school. But, I think her “casual” voice is 100% authentic and honest… much-needed advice from a “trusted friend.” Thank you, Ira! <3

To your physical and mental health in the days and weeks to come,



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