Tips for parents during school closures
In this time of transition and uncertainty, ensuring that our children feel safe and grounded is every parent’s priority. With the recent school closures due to COVID-19, the structure and schedule afforded by the traditional school day is missing. Many parents are concerned about what these closures mean for the academic and social-emotional development of their children. Our veteran educators and child development experts at Empowering Scholars have put together a few tips for families to navigate these challenging circumstances.
- Create connection. First and foremost, we must help kids process their emotions during this stressful time. Keep the atmosphere in the house as relaxed and flexible as possible, and limit your children’s news intake. Kids will pick up on our own feelings of stress, so make sure you are taking care of your own emotional needs. Create family rituals that will provide stress relief for everyone, such as exercise, meditation, yoga, hiking, gardening, or listening to music.
- Develop daily rhythms. Following rigid schedules that mimic the school day is likely to be met with resistance and can create tension and conflict with your children. Build routines that work for you as a family but that are flexible enough to be adapted in response to variations in your child’s mood, energy, and interests.
- Foster a love of learning. Instead of trying to recreate school at home, focus on academic enrichment: cultivate an environment of curiosity and provide plenty of organic learning opportunities. When possible, engage in family activities such as cooking, listening to podcasts and audiobooks or watching documentaries, starting a garden, practicing an instrument, or doing art projects. Follow the interests of your child; they will gain more from doing things about which they are passionate–or at least mildly curious.
- Team up. Your role during this time is to be your child’s ally, advocate, and activity partner; you don’t need to be their teacher. Some students will continue to receive online instruction, and those that don’t will receive plenty of support and skill building from their teachers once schools reopen. In the meantime, learn alongside your child, pursue your own hobbies while they pursue theirs, do your work at the same table next to them, and model for them how to (loosely) structure their time and engage in enriching activities.
And remember, every child is in the same situation; your child is not behind. Once schools reopen, teachers will work hard to ensure that all students are where they need to be. Focus on being a nurturing parent, and trust that your child is learning and growing and thriving, even if that is happening in ways you cannot see right now.