Education and Parenting: What eLearning Taught Me About Our Daughter

The new school year is starting, and this one is going to be a doozy. With that in mind, we’re centering our blog posts this month on education. You might recognize our first featured guest blogger: Patty O’Machel is a writer, special needs advocate and mom who has been writing guest posts for Easterseals for years now.

Our New Normal – E-Learning

by Patty O’Machel

Patty and her daughter outside on a sunny day

Patty (right) and her daughter (left)

The new normal is a challenge for everyone, not just parents like myself who are raising children with disabilities. And in this disability parenting club, I have found our new normals do not look like everyone else’s.

I know mine doesn’t!

During this past spring of online learning from home, I discovered so, so much about this girl I am raising: things that, prior to this, were hidden in her relationships at school. Her relationships with her teachers and her aides are incredibly special and she had surrounded herself with people who see her potential and made her thrive with independence.

She and I never had this relationship. As much as I try, I am always her safe place. Her person to reach for for help, even when she doesn’t need it.

We started that new journey with me making her cry several times a day, as I didn’t know the rhythm yet or the dance we needed to do. She would look at me with her big, brown eyes silently pleading for me to help her and I would get frustrated because I knew she could do it herself.

She is so smart, and so competent. I struggled for a way to change our mom/daughter relationship into the new teacher/aide/student one. Even with her teachers explaining over and over that her current straight A’s as a Freshman could not go down in this corona home learning situation, she still wanted to be at the table by 9:00 and work diligently to get every piece of work done — sometimes turning in work early. Some things I realized from all of this:

    • She is incredibly smart
    • She can do the work — if she would just see herself through the lenses of everyone around her
    • She LOVES to learn
    • She NEEDS to feel she has a purpose and that things are expected of her
    • She wants to use her brain
    • She is great at algebra and physics which she did not get from me!

By far the most important lesson I learned? That before this past spring, I’d been holding her back. I am holding her back. I should have asked more of her at home. I should have given her responsibilities like her siblings. I should have expected her to be a contributing member of this family. She wants and craves being needed like everyone else does.

E-Learning is long, and I have to write for her and sometimes type for her if her voice to text technology doesn’t work. I have to watch the teachers algebra and physics videos to understand even a bit of what she is trying to do. I have to go back and be a freshman in high school, and believe me, I never wanted to do that again!

But I have also learned to see my capable, smart, inquisitive daughter in a whole new way. So another win for this tricky time we are now living in.

As this new school year begins, Patty O’Machel is gearing up to bring her company, Educating Outside The Lines, to more schools through eLearning. Educating Outside the Lines promotes the idea that children with all abilities need to be accepted and seen for their unique gifts, as varied as they are. To see Educating Outside The Lines in action, this link has a short video of programming.


Comments may not reflect Easterseals' policies or positions.

Please read our community guidelines when posting comments.

Leave a Reply