My name is Anthony and I’m an educator and therapist. During this unprecedented time of uncertainty and unpredictability, I would like to offer a therapeutic lens and resources for families struggling with this transition to having their children home full-time.
The number one thing that I hear from educators is that parents are feeling overwhelmed and worried. Especially in households with multiple students at varying ages, it can be difficult for parents to feel as though they now need to be educators.
I know that educators are not therapists. And, I think it is important that we as educators provide encouragement, validation, and support for parents during these, especially challenging times. Parents are busy. Many are now working from home while supporting the needs of their kids. Parents are being inundated with questions from their kids about topics that parents have not heard of in years. Parents are worried about their own health, about loved ones, about finances, and about the future. Many parents do not know how to keep their kids entertained all day long.
What can we as educators do?
- Check-in with parents. Something as simple as asking “How are you doing?”
- When parents reply, validate, validate, validate! For example, “That sounds incredibly stressful.”
- Offer resources. Parents often do not have the resource of being heard. Educators, we can be that resource.
- Ask personal questions. Ask them how their jobs are going, are they working from home, do they have enough resources and support?
- Offer time for questions. Do they have any other questions that you might be able to answer or support?
- Reassure parents that it’s OK if assignments don’t get done. Mental health and peace in the house are far more important than academics now. As one counselor put it, if faced with the choice between academics and connection, choose connection.
For the families that reply to any of these questions with needs for resources and support, we can offer them the resources found at the bottom of this blog.
What can we suggest for parents?
After we listen and validate the needs of parents, we can offer concrete systems for them to carry out increased structure within their home that both sets limits, and provides support and engagement for their children. Encourage kids to take the lead on this and fill it out, they are much more likely to adhere to the calendar if they are involved with creating it. Make sure to include schoolwork that needs to be completed, breaks, extracurricular activities, meals, wakeup/bedtimes, and time for fun!
It is important to maintain the structure as much as possible within the home while kids are away from their structured school schedules. Remember to remind parents that the schedule needs to be realistic, to involve their child with creating the schedule, and to be excited and optimistic about creating their schedule. The more they feel excited to get to the fun activities in their day, the more likely they are to follow through with the entirety of the schedule.
Here is a sample schedule that parents can use:
|8:00 AM||Wake up routine then eat breakfast|
|9:00 AM||Go on a walk or stretch then get ready for academics.|
|10:00 AM||Work on science, take a break, then do math work.|
|11:00 AM||Do your house chores then do something fun!|
|12:00 PM||Eat lunch (optional add in some screen time after eating).|
|1:00 PM||Work on English work.|
|2:00 PM||Practice instrument.|
|3:00 PM||Play in the backyard.|
|4:00 PM||Finish school work or assignments. If all done then color, read, or draw.|
|5:00 PM||Eat dinner.|
|6:00 PM||Play a game or go on a walk as a family.|
|7:00 PM||Free time.|
|8:00 PM||Get ready for bed then lights out.|
Mental health services:
For resources ranging from food stamps to housing support:
2-1-1 is a confidential and multilingual service connecting people to vital resources across the state. No matter where you live in Colorado, you can find information about resources in your local community.
Keep your kids engaged!:
Here are 100 activities that you and your children can do in the home: https://fitnessbythesea.com/101-summer-activities-for-kids/
Go through this list with your kids, together, and put a checkmark next to anything that stands out to them as something they would like to do!
For Academic Support:
Utilize Khan Academy: https://www.khanacademy.org/
This is an amazing resource for understanding classroom lessons!
About the Author
Anthony DiLorenzo started his career in social work and education at the Tennyson Center for Children where he worked as a Supervisor for Youth Treatment Counselors in the residential and day treatment programs. He now runs a company called Circles where he trains, coaches, and supports the implementation of Restorative Practice Programs focused on supporting educators with classroom management and developing strong communities within schools. Anthony also works as a therapist at Denver Springs Mental Wellness, primarily with youth struggling with suicidal and homicidal ideation. He believes that our response to school violence and adverse behaviors needs to be a response that focuses on the root causes of peer isolation and lagging social emotional skills.