Crisis Schooling during Covid19: supporting your child(ren) in a time of stress and change

Parents and guardians, right now many of you are faced with supporting your child’s education at home. The expectations from school districts vary greatly but if you are experiencing resistance trying to homeschool your children know that this is totally normal. Homeschooling is not an accurate term in the time of a global pandemic, this is crisis schooling. Our lives are disrupted in major ways and we are faced with multiple threats to our physical, mental and financial wellbeing. We are struggling to cope and support others effectively. No one is an expert here, no one in the world has experienced this type of crisis before. This is not a snow day. Your family’s safety is the first priority and needs to be addressed before we can think about learning.

When we lose control in our lives, we naturally seek control. Your child did not chose to stop going to school, stop seeing their friends, and stop doing activities they love. This can be traumatic for your child as it has the potential to be ‘overwhelming, unbelievable, and unbearable.’ This is renowned psychiatrist’s, Bessel van der Kolk’s definition of trauma. The need for agency is a human desire as powerful as hunger or thirst and when we experience loss of control we fight hard to get it back.

Here are some tips to helping your child cope and learn during the Covid19 pandemic:

  1. Staying home is great parenting! The combination of how contagious and how deadly this virus is means staying home is a heroic act. If you and your family stay home and do nothing else, you are an amazing parent/friend/partner/human. Do the best you can and please spare yourself judgement. This is not an easy time. If you need to go to work at this time and you ensure your child is safe, this is amazing parenting as well. Take a moment to celebrate these small wins.

As a school psychologist, I see how much parents love and want the best for their children. We are all doing the best we can. For some this is a pleasurable time with an increased focus on connection and family. For others this is a time of uncertainty which may trigger past traumas and produce additional stressors. It is important to know that you are not alone and it is ok to reach out for help. The term ‘Social Distancing’ is a misnomer, we need to be physically distant but socially connected. As we struggle to respond to this crisis one thing is for certain, we are living in a historic time that will change the way we live, work, and learn. We just haven’t figured out what that looks like yet.

If at any point you feel you cannot cope, please reach out for help. Crisis hotlines can be called when you need emotional support. 1–800–273–8255

Ed Psych/Educator/Entrepreneur/Mom to a rad daughter. #TraumaInformed founder fighting for a more compassionate, equitable, and innovative world.

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