In March of 2020 life came to a SCREECHING halt. For a brief moment I think we all kind of looked at the “two-week quarantine” as an opportunity to slow down for a minute and count our blessings. That is, of course, only to quickly realize that this “new normal” was going to be riddled with complexities far beyond anything we could’ve imagined.
As parents and caregivers we play every role imaginable for our children – cheerleader, nurse, chef, uber driver – the list goes on and on, and while we are their “teacher” in so many senses of the word the pandemic taught us we also are very much NOT their teacher.
In short, the transition to virtual learning was hard, it’s as simple as that. Working, maintaining my routine mom-responsibilities, and suddenly overseeing full school days quickly became a task that felt daunting. There was also the second-hand anxiety that I was feeling for my kids, they were scared and confused by their lives suddenly being turned completely upside down and I wasn’t able to give them all of the answers to the millions of questions they were asking.
When resources started pouring through about virtual learning, I think a lot of parents felt really overwhelmed by all the feedback coming from all different directions. The Distance Learning Playbook for Parents was a saving grace in the sense that it combined all the factors we were worrying about as parents into one resource that presents tools to help us continue moving forward. Because it’s an interactive playbook I was able to bounce around and tap into the sections that I needed most in any given moment, the Social Emotional Learning section is one that I would recommend HIGHLY for all parents to read to help support our students’ social and emotional growth and regulation anywhere.
The basics section, though seemingly trivial at first glance, also reminds us of so many important things that we routinely brush to the side. For example, the section on creating a learning environment – making sure our kiddos FEEL like they’re in school while they are online learning is truly one of the keys to setting both us as parents and our children as students up for success. Or the notion of establishing routines that make sense for your individual household and sticking to them. Sometimes motivating my youngest (7) to start his work AND stay on task/self-regulate is seemingly impossible, but once we started developing a concrete “school-like” schedule with a school bell ringing (aka my phone alarm) when it was time to take a break he started to understand that expectations at home are the same as when he was going to physical school.
One thing I’ve also come to realize at the end of the day is that we all just have to cut ourselves some slack. That includes our kids and their teachers too. Of all the major themes in this book, having compassion and taking care of ourselves was what resonated with me the most. This is uncharted territory for everyone, and we just have to really try and do our best.