By now we've all probably realized that we need to cope with the reality that "back to school" will not look like the typical back to school-- but through all the stress and the decisions there may be a positive side: time. I know, this seems silly (please don't stop reading now)-- virtual learning combined with working from home leads to the most hectic schedules we've ever had to manage (fear not, manage we will!) But a break from a standard curriculum and work schedule provides the opportunity to come up with alternative schedules that allow for self-guided, and more importantly, self-motivated, exploration of new topics and ideas.
While obviously not the ideal situation, perhaps being forced into alternative learning solutions will provide our kids the time needed to pursue creativity intensively: independent exploration of new materials, crafts, practices and ideas. Maybe the traditional subjects will take a backseat to independent reading, and perhaps a curriculum that is normally strict will be relaxed enough in virtual format to allow for individual decisions regarding focus topics and study paths.
Some of my fondest memories and most inspirational times sprung up from periods of great boredom. I distinctly remember learning Photoshop and Illustrator from graphic design magazines at Borders Books (remember them?) because I had nothing else to do. I also remember deciding to try my hand at creative writing after a long summer of reading books-- not school books, not textbooks,-- just literature that I chose for myself (seriously, Borders was great!)
While I'm not a graphic designer, I still use my knowledge of Photoshop and Illustrator gained over those lazy summers over a decade later. And while I've never published a novel, writing permeates every aspect of my life--personal and professional. Most importantly, I learned how to pursue learning something of interest independently. Being able to decide exactly where my interests lay and then knowing how to find the existing knowledge in that field has turned out to be one of the most important things I've ever learned, and indeed, that is now what I do for a living.
So through all the fear we (rightfully!) have surrounding the virtual learning formats that our kids will likely face for the next year, I take comfort remembering the passions I discovered for myself when a break from formal schooling allowed me to explore alternative, creative, sometimes futile (let's just say I tried a few things at which I was astoundingly poor) but always useful in some way, self-guided activities.