The global pandemic or COVID-19 has had a tremendous impact on our lives and especially on our kids.
I recently saw a meme that read, “I’m either coming out of this quarantine 20 lb. lighter, chakras balanced and a house full of completed craft projects or … 20 lb. heavier with an unhealthy relationship with Amazon,”and I couldn’t help but laugh.
Personally, I have been inundated with sage advice about how to maintain my physical fitness and diet, how to make the most of this family time and how best to set up a home classroom. I’ve seen post after post of offers of free Pilates classes, cooking demonstrations and knitting circles. All amazing and, collectively, more than a bit overwhelming.
In truth, my husband and I, like many transitioning their workplace from the office to the dining room table, have been working non-stop. As a result, we haven’t set up a one-room schoolhouse in our home, rather, we are doing the best we can to manage everyone’s needs, while our kids watch way more TV than they typically would, all the while knowing that this is just fine.
Parenting, as we know, is about the long haul. It is about the combination of a million little moments, some of which we knock out of the park and some of which could benefit from a do-over. In difficult times, we need to have faith in our children’s resilience, which allows them to weather the not-so-perfect at home, school and the broader world.
As we continue to learn how to navigate the unfamiliar, we must recognize that our resilience and ability to cope will be tested in big and little ways. My guidance to parents is the same guidance I shared with the faculty at The York School: Be kind to yourself. If you are at home making elaborate meals that you’ve never had the time to make before — awesome. If your kids are on their fifth meal of KD this week — also fine. Your best is good enough.
In embracing this mindset, you are modelling a critical message to your children — their best is also good enough. They have been asked to adapt to an awful lot and quickly. Learning online is different than learning in a class filled with kids. Being confined to home feels different than playing and socializing with the hockey team.
Inherent in this challenging time is a tremendous amount of loss. From families who are contending with serious illness to Grade 12 students who are worried about missing graduation to children whose fundamental sense of safety in the world has been diminished, across the globe and across generations, we are all grieving. Young people and adults alike are working to process loss while simultaneously being asked to live, work and learn in fundamentally changed ways — an incredibly tough challenge.
Adaptation to our new normal has and will continue to come in phases. As a school, as we navigate this crisis, a primary goal is to adjust our practice to meet our students’, parents’ and faculty’s evolving needs. Strong home-school relationships foster reflective feedback, which can help to guide the evolution of our online learning journey.
Parents, trust yourselves. Yes, we are parenting in very unfamiliar circumstances, but you are still the same parent and your child is the same child. You know your child best. Help your child’s teachers know what is working by sharing your observations from home. Together, in partnership, we will continue to learn as we go, with the maintenance of the well-being of the community being our North Star and most important goal.