COVID-19: 12 Preparations for Parents
How do you create a quality quarantine?
Posted Mar 16, 2020
In the face of our uncertainty, suddenly, parents will need to juggle new responsibilities, including playing a far larger role to educate and occupy our children. We can approach this as an opportunity to grow closer as families and communities and sow the seeds of positive change.
We should be prepared for the eventuality that schools may not resume classes in physical school buildings until after the summer. Thus far, more than 30 states plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have shuttered their doors.
So let’s get ahead of this!
1. Communicate. Establish the practice of open and regular communication with your kids, so they feel emotionally and physically safe. Stay on top of factual information/resources and make sure your children are not following and spreading misinformation or fake news. Celebrate the positive news and daily victories, big and small. Support the appropriate and individualized needs of each of your children.
2. Stay Calm. Model the behavior and attitudes you want to see in your children, which includes remaining calm, as hard as this may be. Make sure you engage in some laughter daily. Enjoy the family time.
3. Maintain Healthy Discipline. Try to create as much certainty as possible by discussing and posting house rules, establishing routines, and enforcing schedules. Discipline and organization make our kids feel safe. We each have new individual needs, responsibilities, limitations, and expectations that need to be met through which we need to support one another.
4. Create New Routines. Use this as an opportunity to establish new or revised house rules that can include: limitations on technology and entirely tech-free days, staying organized (spring cleaning), required quiet reading times, outdoor time (if possible), increased recycling, limiting solo teen time in bedrooms in place of hanging out even silently together in a family room, etc. Assign leadership roles for: preparing meals, household chores, family activities, etc. Undertake household repairs as a family. Create a list of all the work, divvy it up and assign, and create a schedule with due dates. Get creative.
5. Have Contingency Plans. When tensions may flare in our confined quarters with more limited mobility, ask members of your family for cool down ideas that could include outdoor walks (if possible), retreating to a quiet area in the home, jumping rope, listening and dancing to music, cooking, engaging in hobbies, etc.
6. Be Flexible. Practice and model empathy for our teachers and school administrators and be prepared to roll up your sleeves. As schools prepare to teach our children virtually, there will be countless glitches. This is to be expected. Our educators will be working out how to use new tech platforms for: schedules, attendance, grading, assignments, testing, one-to-one instruction, participation, discipline, special ed, hands-on learning, art, music, PE, and so much more. Some students may not even have reliable access to the internet and/or a computer. Others will not have access to the basic social services schools have provided from meals to childcare. Discuss this with your kids. We all need to remain supportive and flexible.
7. Stay in Touch. Know all of your points of contact at the classroom, grade, school, and district levels and learn new communication protocols. Parents, be prepared to help other parents so that our educators are not overwhelmed.
8. Be Hands-on. Virtual learning cannot fully replace in-school, in-person schooling. Sit with each of your children and review their curricula and be prepared to work hand-in-hand with teachers.
9. Books Before Screens. Get your kids into the habit of reading paperbound books and not on tech, if possible. It’s the best educational support and supplement you can provide. Encourage reading all genres from historical fiction to biographies. If they aren’t already readers, schedule an all-family “relax and read” period. Start with 30 minutes today and then add 10 more minutes daily. Have multiple reading periods daily. Post a reading log by family member (this includes adults in the home) with book titles, pages read, date/time. Consider starting a library and/or book exchange as many community libraries are closed — reach out to friends. Create a book club for your kids that can meet virtually. Alternate the weekly parent/child coordinator.
10. Exercise. Ensure that everybody gets daily physical activity. Role model this for your children and create physical activities that you can enjoy together. Get outdoors and out in nature daily and regularly in non-populated areas if you can. Soak in some vitamin D. And take pets outdoors and play, play, play!
11. Socialize. Create your support network — old and new. Intentionally reach out regularly and even on a schedule. Promote the same for your kids but be weary of untoward digital engagement. Get creative with socialization alternatives. Videos of Italians standing on their terraces playing music together are going viral. Partnerships and collaborations will likely create new communities and transcend other areas of our lives — professionally too.
12. Talk about it! Discuss (do not avoid) affected areas of our kids’ lives rationally and realistically— we are all experiencing this unprecedented upheaval together. Graduations, standardized and state exams, international student enrollments, finishing the curriculum, summer plans, revised and new academic schedules for weeks and months to come, part-time jobs, civic engagement in light of the pending presidential election, etc.
This is an inflection point in all of our lives. Through it practice kindness, understanding, and patience. Together, as a community, we will create new memories, learn, and get to the other side — albeit a far more humbled one.
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