Amid the various fears looming as COVID-19 continues to spread is the rising panic parents are feeling as schools across the nation shutter for weeks or even months and a new normal settles in. It’s a daunting task to keep children calm, occupied and learning during this time of uncertainty, especially for those working from home or, even more so, worrying about job security, lost paychecks, and where the next meal will come from. Kids’ day-to-day routines have shifted radically in a short time, as have their parents’, and these changes are jarring for everyone. As we navigate the changes in our lives, parents are trying hard to keep their kids happy and engaged – while tracking shipments of toilet paper, obsessively scrubbing door handles, reminding people to “sing the ABCs once more while you wash your hands!” and actually getting some work done. COVID-19 makes all our previous struggles to juggle work and home seem like a (non-social-distancing) walk in the park.
As the head of a network that is preparing and supporting hundreds of thousands of excellent science, technology, engineering and math teachers around the country, I have the privilege of learning from amazing educators every day. In this time of crisis, as we all re-center on the infinite value of teachers – Shonda Rhimes put it best – I reached out to some of the best teachers around the country, as well as fellow parents, to get their advice on how to navigate this unique situation. I asked what they do to create a nurturing learning environment, so our kids can be happy and stay focused – and parents get the space we need to deal with work and everything else on our lists.
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