“At the end of the day, the most overwhelming key to a child’s success is the positive involvement of parents.” – Jane D. Hull
Support and collaboration with parents has never been more apparent than now as we all work together during this challenging time to meet the educational and social emotional needs of GFPS students. GFPS recognizes and thanks parents for the tremendous undertaking of juggling work, family time, and school time which is especially challenging during this pandemic.
“Being in school is the very best option,” states Jill Hunt, parent of four children attending all levels of GFPS schools.”
She also says, “Kids love school and classes like French and art are best delivered in person.” Kelli Smith, another parent of four children attending GFPS, agrees. “My children enjoy socializing with peers, being in an interactive environment that allows for connection, having access to immediate help as needed, and getting involved in clubs and sports as allowable per COVID restrictions. They also thrive on routine and structure, so the predictable routine is helpful in moving through their school day.”
Being enrolled for in-person learning has not guaranteed that students have been in class the entire time so far this academic year. Temporary school closure and contract tracing has required students and teachers to work from home for periods of time as required by Covid health guidelines.
So when learning from home, scheduling four children’s individual Zoom meetings has required some creative thinking and solutions for these parents. Color coding a 4-column schedule in 15 minute intervals has helped so everyone can see everyone else’s schedule. For working parents like Jill and Kelli, most evenings are spent checking academic work, balancing real-life with the added screen time, gathering materials and resources, providing academic help for those who need it, and taking care of emotional needs.
Kelli observes, “It’s easy to forget that we are carrying an unseen mental load. We are all navigating an impossible situation without a playbook to draw from. We are anxious and sitting with high levels of uncertainty that seem to have no end in sight.”
“On top of that we are isolated, disconnected and overwhelmed. This can create the perfect storm for rising mental health issues. Sometimes our kids have to walk away from the school responsibilities of the day and take care of their mental health. This may include deep breathing, relaxing and watching a show, or just playing. We try to normalize these challenges and ease the pressure our children are facing as they try to keep up with school while their parents have limited availability.”
Collaborating and communicating for the sake of our most precious resources, our children, have been the key to navigating through these unchartered waters.
Jill expresses, “Everyone in the district… aides, teachers, administrators are doing everything in their power to do their best no matter how difficult this is.”
Kelli says to GFPS staff, “We see you! This isn’t what you signed up for and we appreciate all of your efforts to get through this as smoothly as possible. Be kind to yourselves, take care of yourselves, and know your limits. You deserve wellness too.
And to the general public, Kelli would like to add, “This is hard and we are all feeling it. The teachers, administrators, and support staff are just as overwhelmed as we are. Our friends and family members are struggling more than we can possibly know. Let’s show as much understanding and compassion as we can through an impossible situation. Flexibility, appropriate expectations, and grace will allow us to move through this in a meaningful way. It’s important that we set aside whatever we can to lighten our loads and reach out for help when we need it. We all need each other, so let’s show up in a way that is powerfully supportive.”
While Jill and Kelli have become adept at being flexible, whether they are getting their children off to their prospective physical school buildings or setting up expectations for at home learning, they hope, as we all do, for this to be over soon.
In the meantime, they will continue doing everything they can to help their children succeed.
“Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.” — Desmond Tutu