In these new and challenging times, we as parents and teachers face many decisions to make regarding our children’s safety and well-being. This protection comes not only in the physical (masks, hand washings, etc.) but also the psychological health we owe our youth. As parents and teachers deal with the ups and downs of our current climate, it is our job to provide a safe learning environment for our children as we meet the challenges school openings will bring.
Parents have to get to a level of comfort themselves because kids play off of parent anxiety1. Understand and accept that no one can make a 100% right or wrong decision in sending your child back to school or keeping them home. Do your research and make a decision, become comfortable with it, then stick to it. Do not second-guess yourself, especially in front of your child. Some important questions to answer:
- What is your child’s health condition?
- What are the health conditions of your child’s friends?
- Is your family able to find child care?
- What is your family’s ability to provide remote learning at home?
- Does your child have needs which require a professional?
The CDC has a Back to School Decision Making Tool which can help put these matters into perspective (Click here for the Back to School Tool).
Parents need to talk to their children about responsibility1. It is the job of the adults (parents, teachers, and principals) to make sure everything is set up for the child to learn and feel safe. The following tips can help2:
- Stay calm and listen; focus on the positive. Explain social distancing and offer reassurances. Maintain a daily routine while offering much love and affection. Monitor TV viewing and social media.
- Take time to talk and be honest and accurate; keep your explanations age-appropriate. Correct misinformation and explain simple safety steps. Constantly reassure your child he/she is safe.
- Model a healthy lifestyle: hand washing, masks, covering your mouth when sneezing or coughing. Compliment your child when they exhibit this good behavior. Encourage them to get adequate sleep and eat a healthy diet.
- If your plan is for your child to go back to school learning, then yes, you get the supplies and prepare for in-school learning. You do what you need to do based on the knowledge that you have today. If you have to return it all, then okay, but that’s a different day, not today.1
View this time as an opportunity to model for your child’s problem-solving, flexibility and compassion as we all work through the adjustments we need to make.
Teachers face many new challenges as schools struggle to reopen. Never before have the teachers encountered the learning platforms they are being asked to utilize to teach their lessons. The following health tips will help teachers manage the balance between life and remote teaching:
- Control the controllable. Meet the challenges you encounter today and leave the rest for another day. Set reasonable expectations and let the rest go.
- Separate work and life. Dedicate a work space and set office ours. Communicate with colleagues, they will understand. Reach out when you need help.
- Be unapologetic for taking time for your own personal growth. Take care of your own health. Keep your body moving; you are not used to being sedentary. Carve out time during the day for you and your needs. Be kind to yourself, you deserve it.
The child’s job is to be a kid and not worry. Follow what your teachers and parents are telling you to do on any given day and turn off thinking too far into the future. Recognize you will always be safe if you follow the rules.1 When your child walks into school, their job is be ready to learn every day and to follow what the adults are telling them to do. Encourage them to focus on what they have to do this day, this hour. They should not think too far into the future because what works today may change next week.
“You have to find a way to respect these new boundaries, but still live the version of life you’re used to. That’s what life is, regardless of circumstance.” ~Caroline Wright
1Pam McCaskill, Ph.D. Personal Interview. 2020.
2Sievering, Kathy. Helping Children Cope With Changes Resulting From COVID-19. NASP: National Association of School Psychologists. 2020: https://www.nasponline.org/resources-and-publications/resources-and- podcasts/school-climate-safety-and-crisis/health-crisis-resources/helping-children-cope-with-changes-resulting-from-covid-19.
3 McClintock, Erin. 10 Mental Health Tips for Teachers During the COVID-19 Pandemic. Everfi’s. 08 May 2020: https://everfi.com/blog/k-12/10-ways-educators-can-support-their- mental-health/.
Written by Ingrid Hartig.
Ingrid is a Master Instructor with Brainspring’s Educator Academy.
Brainspring has proudly supported the educational community for more than 25 years.