We got blindsided. We all did. The educational center of many communities has been shut down. The place which takes care of those children, keeps them safe, fed, socially engaged, academically engaged, and dare I say it, “entertained” for 7 hours every day has suddenly and indefinitely shuttered.

And now we’ve all been floundering—trying to figure out how to continue with some sense of normalcy, without adding any of that “adult” stress onto our little ones. As someone who isn’t a parent, all I can do is virtually come alongside you and try to encourage you in this process from the other side of the virtual classroom.

My husband and I have no kids (not for not trying!) and we both teach for Chicago Public Schools. He teaches a classroom of 31 5th graders, and I teach elementary music to 500 students. Absolutely everything about our job has been turned inside out, and then given back to us to try and put together with no instruction manual.


Reflecting on these past few months, looking ahead to the summer, and potentially a virtual (ugh) fall semester, I can only imagine what every parent is going through right now. As someone who cares deeply for the well-being of kids, I believe your well-being as a parent is just as important. So I have some encouragement just for you that I can confidently say would be echoed by the teachers you may be currently working with.

No One’s An Expert At Online Learning

We’re all figuring this out as we go—you, me, and the kids. If an online platform is new to you, it’s most likely new to your child’s teacher as well. More often than not, many questions that parents have, teachers do too. Don’t feel discouraged if it’s not working—work with the teacher to figure it out. Every day is a new day!

gif of the movie aladdin singing "A Whole New World"

We Love Communication

Communication with your teacher is now more important than ever. If you have a question about anything, just send it! Whether it’s through an online platform, in an email, or even as a voice memo. We want to be able to help in any way that we can. Whatever communication format works best for you, teachers are ready to receive it.

gif of a woman saying "my phone lines are open"

Give Yourself Grace

You know your family best and how much you and your child can mentally and emotionally handle. Give yourself some grace if it doesn’t all get done. Many teachers I know are posting the entire week of work at one time. So if one day your kids are just not having it, take a break! Go outside, clean the house, play a game, watch a movie. You can always try again later or the next day. Remember “do your best” does not mean “be the best”.

gif of Kid President saying "Pause. Breathe. Love"

Life Skills Count As Learning

When in doubt, go back to the basics! As much as teachers try to keep your student academically progressing, there are many life skills they need to learn about being part of a community (in this case, family). Playing outside, getting creative through boredom, contributing through chores, having face-to-face conversations. Find confidence in the things your children are learning outside of their digital lessons.

gif of Hey Arnold saying " Remember, we've got to work together like a family."

You’re Not Alone

Our entire country is trying to adjust to the new normal. If you have concerns about your child’s academic progress because of digital learning and the dreaded “summer slide,” you don’t have to worry about it alone. Many babysitters and nannies have experience with homework help and tutoring services in specific subjects—in fact, many summer sitters are teachers like me picking up extra work. Talk to your child’s teacher if you’re considering this option and they can give you specific areas to focus on. Remember to keep communication open with their teacher, recognize the small successes, and celebrate the big ones, We are all in this and we will get through it together.

gif of dancing houses saying "isolated but not alone"

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