When Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker announced that schools and non-emergency childcare programs in the state would remain closed through May 4, I held on to the belief that we will return, but that will likely not happen. COVID-19 has intruded into our daily lives, health, jobs, schools—and everyone has had to make vast adjustments, with little understanding of what is to come. While there are challenges, this crisis has also made us more aware, creative and loving, propelling us into positions we may or may not be trained to handle.
As an educator, I wondered how my students' parents are feeling? What do they think about homeschooling their children for the next six weeks or longer? How can I, as a teacher, support them? So, I asked.
Here are their responses:
I can help my child all day in math, but I struggle in English, so homeschooling in English can be difficult. I am quarantined with my family, and my sister is good with English, while I am good at math, so we alternate teaching duties. However, I believe students should be required to be in video conferencing classes at least two hours a day. I think video conferencing classrooms will bring assurance to the parents and have some accountability with the teachers.
Sharhonda, mother of two
We are trying to figure this out.
John, father of five
I finally have a schedule in week two. We are in [home] school from 9-2 PM with specific duties. My high schooler is a little reluctant, and I have to hover over her to ensure she is working continually. With my preschooler, as long as we adhere to the schedule, it works, but I am working as a teacher-parent and working a job. It's a lot.
Victoria, mother of two
We are ready, on schedule, and haven't missed a beat! My children are learning.
Patrick Jones, father of two
Do you realize how complicated all these assignments are for parents who are still working and first responders? [I wish everyone would] consider that. Not all parents are sitting at home.
R. Cenee, mother of two
I Didn't Wait For My Parents to Come to Me
The parents’ responses moved me to action, as we are all trying to maneuver our way through parenting, teaching, living, staying healthy, working or losing employment. I wanted my parents to know I am here as a source and resource for school and beyond. So, I made it a point to contact parents to let them know we can do this and get through this together, and I outlined clear steps for how I can assist them.
First, I asked my parents what they need. As a working mother, I know how it is hard to focus on anything if my children are hungry or in need. I asked the parents if the children had food, computers or internet access. Our school district provided all three to assist families.
Free breakfast, lunch and meals through the weekend.
1:1 equipment to families who do not have home technology.
Connecting parents with cable companies that are offering free internet service for the next 60 days.
Once all of my students were set up with a home learning system, I held a video conferencing tutorial for parents and students (before I started video conferencing classes), to ensure parents were familiar with the platform and could provide space for students to learn. I then assigned lessons to the students, but informed the parents with information as to what was required and how to complete the task—just in case parents needed to assist their child. I did not want any parent to feel as if they could not help their child.
Finally, I do mental health check-ins with families, and if they need counseling or support, our school counselor has made himself available.
I know this time is a difficult one, but together we are strong, and my families know I am here for them if they need or want help.