As we continue to navigate these uncharted waters relating to the impact of COVID-19 on all of us, it’s been amazing to see the lengths that teachers are going to support their students and to continue their learning. Moving to a distance learning/online learning format is new to so many. What a blessing technology is during this very difficult time. The opportunity to share information and learning with students is such a blessing. Not only can our students continue to learn, but they can have a piece of something familiar each day. As you continue to delve into this new way of doing school, here are a few things to keep in mind, especially when thinking of our student’s parents.
We’ve encouraged you to stay connected to your students. They are missing you and you are missing them. That connection through whatever means, gives them a lift and encouragement. But, don’t forget about the parents. As you know, our parents are under a great deal of stress right now. The ever-changing impact of COVID-19 can create a sense of insecurity and fear. Many of our families are working still, but many are not or will soon be without work. They are concerned about the impact on their families financially, emotionally, and certainly physically. On top of it all, they are now taking on the role of teacher for their child. For some, this is a wonderful way to give them structure for their days at home with their children. For others, this can be very overwhelming. Here are a couple of things to consider:
- As you look to stay connected with your students, do the same with the parents. What questions might they have? What tips might you have that may be obvious to you but unknown to the parents? Encourage them to contact you with any questions they have. But also, be proactive in reaching out to them as well. Most parents have no background in teaching. They want to do what’s best for their child, but many are feeling unequipped to do so. How can you support and reassure them?
- Keep your expectations realistic. We’d all like to think our students will be in the same place at the end of this year that they would have been if school had continued. But is that possible and is that wise? We want to encourage some structure each day and have goals. But we want to avoid expectations that contribute to the stress for the students and for their families. What is best for them in the long term? We always want to inspire children to love learning, even during all of this. Continue to ask how you can help meet an appropriate balance.
- Great teachers meet students where they are. This fall, when school starts again, you’ll do what you do every fall—get to know your students and find ways to meet them where they are.
- The resources that have become available in the last week alone are staggering! If a parent is looking at all of these, it can be overwhelming to make choices for their children. Social media can give the unintended pressure to be the super parent with all kinds of creative activities. Perhaps you can help them sort through and narrow down a few good resources to suggest.
- Encourage parents in the benefits of things like cooking together, board games, daily walks together or other ways to keep moving, reading together, etc. There is great learning in all of these activities and many families have more time to do them. Your voice of encouragement can help them see the benefits of these.
- For many, daily devotions are something new. But having that time each day to be reassured of God’s faithful promises is the greatest stress reliever. Give your families very simple ways to do so. Maybe share any daily classroom prayers that the children already know. Share one or two online devotions for children that you’re seeing and that you know to be sound.
- Encourage parents to reach out to each other, especially if you know of a parent who may need encouragement from another parent. You can be the bridge.
At some point, we will look back at this time and reflect on all that happened. That day will come. In the meantime, we continue to be flexible and caring for each other. We look for ways to share Christ and his love with our students and their families. And we pray with confidence to our faithful God who keeps his promise to be with us in all things.
Cindi L. Holman
Coordinator, Early Childhood Ministries
WELS Commission on Lutheran Schools