For a Kennett grandparent, outside of the kids losing their jobs, what is there to be worried about? The facts are--this virus is more contagious than the common flu and most of us will know someone who succumbs to the complications brought on by this viral intruder (my daughter-in-law’s grandmother). The big issues are the tests that can tell us who is sick, who has the antibodies, what drugs can fight it or give us immunity, and how will this experience affect us in the long run?
All of my children are feeling the tension that comes with the global pandemic. They are doing fairly well, though I still worry about them. My one son’s wife is an ICU nurse in Oslo, Norway and leaves for long shifts during the day and night. My son is home and looking after his5 and 1-year old daughters while trying to keep the software company he works for afloat through this craziness.
At the end of one day of home schooling, cooking, and doing laundry, he sent us a picture of what the living room looked like after 2 days from missing their Barnehage--a Norweigen Preschool.Toys and playthings on every surface, nothing in its proper place; entropy run amuck. When I tried to convey my concern to my sister,she reminded me, strongly, that this isn’t much different from what women have been doing for all eternity.
There is a stress that is palatable. A COVID-19 joke:What is the one industry that is going to bounce back quickly once the country opens up? Divorce Lawyers!But listening to the talking heads on TV spouting about how to get through this pandemic can really depress me. One such TV interaction had a host asking shouldn’t we just chill and not take homeschooling too seriously. The family therapist guest seemed visibly frightened but answered that we shouldn’t expect too much, just make sure we don’t lose our positive relationship with our kids. You aren’t a Math, English or Writing Teacher, you are just their parents and the kids need to feel some attachment to you when this is over.
So, getting through this means you just don’t want your kids to hate you in the end? That is a very low bar. Being liked by your kids wasn’t one of the things my parents tried to beat into me.
I really come at this experience from the other side of the argument. Rahm Emanuel said it best; “You never let a serious crisis go to waste.” This is a development opportunity. It is about learning online and experiencing a new set of constraints as kids pick up more responsibility for their own education. Our job is to develop our children’s sense of curiosity and get them to be self-directed learners.
Dr. Larry Bosley, one of the great leaders of the Kennett School District, believed that the education of our children is a three-legged stool; the District, the Parent(s), and the Child. He said the parents have a much bigger influence on motivating a child than the school does. I believe the 4th leg of the stool is the community, but he is right about the parents.
Each family is different. Almost half of the kids are being raised by a single parent. Some don’t have WiFi. Some of the kids were truant before the virus hit and it’s a lot to expect of them, when it’s so easy, not to do it again. Time management without the structure of class is hard for any student, especially one in elementary school. Anna Kendrick said it best in a tweet about COVID-19: “I guess I’ll never be able to lie to myself again about all the ‘stuff’ I would do if I just had the time.”
A friend who is an elementary school teacher has felt the pain of parents who feel that either she isn’t doing enough or are overwhelmed because they are supposed to do so much to educate their kids. But despite this, she was almost in tears talking about how some of these 8-year old students were blossoming, handing in projects one would never have thought they could accomplish. And it wasn’t the parents who were doing the work. A professional can tell. Perhaps children, given more unstructured time, are better able to unleash their creative energies?
We need to lead by example in these difficult times. We can point out to our children the random acts of kindness that are going on around us. The community pulling together in collaboration as the United Way works with the food cupboard and the YMCA to feed the hungry.
We have a new-found respect for our essential workers; postal carriers, store clerks, and delivery drivers not to mention the daily ongoing heroics of our First Responders and Health Care professionals. Let’s make this as positive an experience as we can for the kids. What are the children reading? A sixth grade Language Arts Teacher was bragging on a student who had just read a book that included his millionth word as tracked by Accelerated Reader.How many words will your children read during the pandemic?
Reading, Writing and Math, along with doing projects, keeping the house clean, listening to others and observing their surroundings are skills and knowledge they will use for the rest of their lives. Let’s take advantage of the opportunities this crisis is offering and advance all of our capabilities in a positive and reinforcing manner.