Virtual school. Remote learning. Online education. Many names, many varied experiences, one singular commonality: kids are on screens constantly.
Our family was thrust (not by choice) into the “distance learning” model, as our kids attend school in a large district in Nashville, TN. As if a world-wide pandemic wasn’t enough, parents (and kids!) are navigating endless peril on the news, racial conflict and economic unrest in our communities, plus canceled sports and other major events. It’s been A LOT.
So here we are… in the trenches. Kids on screens for hours each day, mainly stuck at home without their friends. It’s the opposite of ideal.
Parents who are home with the online school kids (like me, I’ve worked from home for the past 5 years), are faced with their every stress. The app is frozen, I can’t find the download, I hate school, etc..
The kids want and need to blow off steam. They need a release valve. Like get outside (not as fun without friends). Like watch a mindless YouTube video (yay, more screentime). Maybe a round or two of Among Us. Some days it’s whatever will motivate them to just keep moving forward.
There’s a whole new definition of “balance” needed right now when it comes to online content, screentime, and family interaction. If you have older teens like we do, they probably miss that time with their peers and need to offset the vast amount of family togetherness. They’re feeling the loss of independence, and are a bit disoriented by it all. But younger ones might be so burned out (Zoom fatigue, anyone?) that they need more parental connection than ever! A whole lotta grace is needed on our part right now as parents as we stretch and grow to lead our kids with various needs and hot buttons through this crazy season.
Navigating school-issued devices on overloaded wifi signals has become our new normal. Parents are now I.T. specialists and therapists (Zoom rage, anyone?). Well, not ALL parents. Some work outside of the home, who are navigating drop-off care by community centers or other outside help. Some folks are back to school in smaller districts or private schools. Plenty are homeschooling or doing tutorials.
What is clear is that we all need a healthy dose of BREATHE, especially those whose kids are doing school in an entirely different way than before. Let us all take a moment to count our blessings, starting with those God gave us to love (our kids and our family members). Let us then look for others who are far more needy, asking how we can make a difference. And along the way, let’s give ourselves and our kiddos plenty of grace.
These are our thoughts from the trenches.