We all work at our best when the expectations are clear, the job has adequate supplies and supervision, and we are not stressed. How well do you function amid turmoil? Can you do your work well when your work place is in a state of confusion or hostility?
So, what about our kids? It’s been documented that students who live in stable, two-parent homes do very well with virtual learning. Students from low-income families or with difficult living conditions do not fare well with distance learning, at all.
Perhaps our analyses of virtual learning outcomes during the pandemic have failed to take another variable into consideration. When we ‘condemn’ distance learning as being the sole culprit for low and failing grades, we forget looking at the conditions at home.
It’s feasible that even kids from the most dysfunctional homes can learn at school where there is order in the classroom and a teacher who takes interest in their questions and needs. For those students, school is a six- or seven-hour haven from their tumultuous family life.
Doing virtual learning at home, just where do those same kids sit—where is their computer space? At a filthy or crowded kitchen or dining room table, in a torn-up living room or in a sparse attic bedroom? Does tension prevail from parental fighting or constant arguing? Can anyone except the learner speak English as a resource person? Is education valued at all or is it a necessary evil mandated by the powers that be?
Perhaps the poor showing students in general across our nation made during the first grading period of the 2020-21 school year reflects the inadequacies of our modern families and crumbling societal structures. We can blame the teachers, the school administration and the school board—or else we can look at what we can do to strengthen and support families and students within pandemic confines.
We’re all neighbors to families with kids. What can we do to alleviate some of the stress bread-winners in those families are laboring under? With winter coming and spending time outdoors less appealing, there still are ways to help families relieve the tension of sequestering. For instance, bake and take a casserole and all the fixings to them for their dinner. Offer to supervise the kids’ playing outdoors so the parents have time indoors to plan and put things in order. Give those children new coloring books and crayons or other diversions they can play with to occupy their time.
Remember, their parents once looked forward to those kids leaving for school each day, so they had some time to themselves. Think of the stress on both parents and kids now to be together in the same house or apartment all day every day with little or no reprieve. That’s often very stressful. What can you do as an individual to help a family or two? What might your church do for families? The sky’s the limit to your creativity. What better time than NOW?
Think of innovative ways to relieve families’ stress that do not violate pandemic restrictions. Be your neighborhood’s hero! Step up and do it!
— Posted by Tom Salmon for Doris, a fellow member of the Prince William and Manassas Family Alliance