Parents adjust to life at home with the kids
By Wesley Gardner
Families and children recently affected by the closure of Lockhart ISD have had to come up with creative ways to have fun and continue learning as the district prepares its upcoming Long-Distance Learning program.
District officials said the program will launch on April 6 and will allow teachers and students to interact with each digitally. The district is providing computers and tablets to students in need and has even partnered with Spectrum to provide free internet access for 60 days to those who don’t already have it.
School has been out since March 13, though, so how have parents been coping in the meantime?
Andrea Gifford, whose 6-year-old daughter is a first grader at Lockhart ISD, said she’s tried to keep things relatively similar.
“I find it helpful to reinforce some semblance of a schedule while trying to enjoy our day together,” said Gifford. “This works for us because she knows what to expect for the day.
“She gets excited about outdoor science, gardening, helping mama cook, and art activities. I make sure we incorporate outdoor playtime for exercise, and she loves YouTube interactive exercise tutorials for kids.”
Caldwell County resident Brandi Hazelett said the opposite has proven effective for her kiddos.
“We operate better without a ‘real’ schedule,” said Hazelett, noting she’s been able to impart a lot of life skills lessons for things like washing dishes, laundry, cooking and even a little bit of sewing. “We just do what we feel like and relax when we need it.”
According to Amy Watson, some teachers in the Lockhart school district have been providing support even before the rollout of its Long-Distance Learning program, noting her daughter’s teacher has set up daily assignments and learning activities.
“Last week [my daughter] built models of four famous buildings and made a poster about them,” said Watson. “Then, she made a video and uploaded it on Seesaw to her teacher and to share it with her class.
“She also built a boat out of recycled materials and floated it in the bathtub.”
For some parents, like Laura Nichols, exercise has been more of a focus while their children are on their extended break from school. Nichols was required to quit her job to take care of her children, who are in the eighth grade, fourth grade and kindergarten.
“We aren’t stressing about school right now, especially since they haven’t started handing out assignments,” said Nichols. “They do workouts with me.
“We go for runs and walks at parks that aren’t too busy, and my little artists spend hours painting. Oh, and of course TV and tablet time, because mama needs a break, too.”
Patricia Burton, who has homeschooled all of her children, said nothing has really changed for her family, but she did provide this piece of advice:
“Enjoy the time with your kids,” said Burton. “They grow up too quickly.
“Before you know it, they will be gone again, and you will wish you would have relished in the moments you had them at home.”
Stephanie C. Nash, president and CEO of the Episcopal Center for Children, offered the following tips for parents:
Do frequent hand washing with soap and water. When not available use hand sanitizer.
Wash or clean incoming groceries before bringing them into your home.
Wipe down common household surfaces that are used frequently, such as the kitchen counters, dining table, doorknobs, refrigerator handles, bathroom counters, faucet handles, and other surfaces.
Create a calm tone in your home. Adults should strive to be self-aware. Anxiety may be high for adults in the home, but it is important to provide reassurance and calm to your children – they are watching and listening to how you respond to this crisis.
Check in with your loved ones and talk with your children about their thoughts and feelings. For younger children, follow their lead. Be honest and use appropriate talk. Limit child viewing of daily news broadcasts. For older children, be honest and have age appropriate discussions. Validate their concerns while providing reassurance and understanding for their feelings.
Maintain routines as much as possible. Young children especially will need structure that replicates a school week. Make time for snacks and movement breaks.
Give daily, positive affirmations and encourage family members. This might be as simple as saying, “Wow, you are doing great at sharing the game with your sister” or “Thanks for being helpful by clearing off the table” or “You were so responsible with your online assignment.”
Offer healthy and nutritious snacks and meals.
Use the time at home to engage in activities with your family – such as board games, baking, puzzles, home projects, book discussions, arts and crafts, jam sessions, home recitals, dance and exercise workouts, yoga, barbecue, cookout, front porch picnics, and more.
Set boundaries. Give yourself permission for some quiet time/space during the course of the day. For many parents or guardians, that might mean getting up before everyone else, or having a quiet time to pray, meditate, or do breathing exercises.
Encourage family chores that are age-appropriate for everyone in the family. Offer praise for completed chores and talk about how everyone is working together.
Set intentions and realistic expectations for yourself. One way to do that is to write down what you intend to accomplish for the day.
Exercise self-compassion. Be kind to yourself during this time of challenges.