COVID-19: What your kids REALLY think
Are we doing a good enough job? Are we meeting the needs of our children? Are they happy? These questions float through the weary heads of parents nightly since the recent public health crisis has us doing double duty – working and facilitating at-home learning experiences for their children.
Since we at The Institute for Learning Innovation are in the business of research and learning we decided to consult a few “experts” to find out how they feel about what’s going on in their homes during this unprecedented time in history.
Since circumstances vary from household to household we sought information from a variety of environments. In some homes, we found parents were working collaboratively from home, in others, one or more parents were working outside of the home, on the front lines. In some cases, households had two parents and in others, one was leading the charge. All had unique challenges and circumstances. We asked several children between the ages of 4 and 12 years to weigh in on how they feel about the job their grownups are doing when it comes to juggling the responsibilities of life in quarantine. Here are the results:
They love pajamas!
When we asked kids what’s different about learning at home or at school they usually giggled and admitted they were enjoying a lot of extra time in pajamas and bathrobes. They also said learning is a lot comfier when done on your bed or on the couch. They don’t miss tables and desks one bit!
They are happy to have more choice and flexibility in their daytime routine
The consensus was that our learners were VERY happy about the level of choice they have when learning from home. (A key tenet of Free-Choice Learning.) They enjoyed choosing what to read, what they learned, the order they did things in, and the fact that they had some say in designing the day ahead of them so that they could inject it with cartoons, Minecraft, and street hockey. (A few admitted that it is a little easier to get distracted at home because when you go to school you are there to ‘work’ and must get things done but home is filled with fun things to do! )
Less Pressure, Slower Pace
Several participants mentioned that it is nice to leave the pace of their classroom behind. “My teachers make it so stressful because we always have to hurry to finish, at home we can go slower, I like that way better.” Others mentioned how nice it was to have support close at hand when they needed clarification. “It’s hard to ask for help in class because the teacher has to hurry before the bell rings and there are like 30 other kids to deal with.” Although in many cases kids are still working on school-provided materials they are finding that home provides a more relaxed environment for learning. ” No one tells me to hurry at home, it’s way better!”
They see that family matters
Although even our youngest interviewee ( 4 years old) knew that things were different because of “The COVID,” all of them were thankful for being home with their grownups, generally felt safe, and were happy to be going through this together as a family. They are enjoying playing dominos, collecting sea glass and other natural treasures, learning to cook, playing more board games, and all the family walks!
“It would stink to be in The Corona by yourself. I do miss my friends and some of my teachers but not too bad cuz everything is better when you have your family with you.” Several other kids mentioned both noticing and appreciating the additional family time. ” We eat dinner together every day now that Dad works from home and we do more things together.” One child who’s Mom routinely worked night shift prior to her company closing its doors commented ” It’s awesome having Mom home at night. Now we read books at bedtime.”
They want us to know they appreciate the treats
When asked what their grownups were “best at” and one common theme presented. Providing snacks! “Treats make everyone happy and kids… and parents… are working pretty hard so we should always make sure to always have treats …in my opinion.” Spending more time at home has created a space for more time in the kitchen and eating out less means many of us are trying to make new and delicious snacks at home. “I love that I can eat when I am hungry now, not just when the teacher says it’s time.” Favorite snacks were listed as brownies, cookies, muffins, gourmet popcorn, cheese and crackers and chips, and fruit smoothies. ” My Mom makes the best cookies and Dad makes the best popcorn, we didn’t used to have them as much,” said one participant.
They see how hard we are working
Our sample discussed how their parents were juggling home and work, and conference calls, all while making sure they (the kids) are happy and engaged. “My mom works at the hospital and sells pampered chef at home so we can make extra money, my Dad is cleaning a lot and writing a book.” said one observant child. “My Mom should not stay up so late, you need sleep to be healthy and she deserves to watch her favorite tv show even though it’s really boring!” said another. “Even my Dad is doing exercise with us every day now and he hates to exercise!” said another. “My Mom has to be a worker and a teacher and also a community helper every day at the same time! That looks hard but she can do anything.”
They see we’re learning together
“The last pandemic was like a thousand years ago, so no one knows how to be good at it yet.” Although the timeline is a bit off, there is a LOT of truth in that statement! None of us are “Pandemic Professionals.” We’re learning as we go and as we do, we are showing our children that even as adults we don’t know everything. Even as grown-ups, we are still active learners, problem solvers, and students in the big school of life. “I learned how to cook eggs; my dad learned how to fix the lawnmower and my Mom learned how to use the Zoom to talk to people!”
They are witnessing compassion
“My mom left wine on someone’s porch; they have 4 kids …” said one participant. (That kid really gets it!) “We gave our neighbor some toilet paper and some food for her and her cats too. She’s very old and it’s not good for her to go shopping right now. My Mom texts her every day to see how she is doing, it’s important to care for grandmas and grandpas and old people.” “My Dad delivered a pizza and a gift card to his friend because he lost his job on Friday.” While things are difficult and strange, children are seeing how neighbors support each other and are discovering the simple ways that we can make a difference.
Our findings? We’re doing a great job!
The best thing to come from our “research” was learning that all of the kids we interviewed felt like the adults in their lives were doing a perfectly good job.
We asked our kids what advice they would give to ALL parents in the world right now and they offered some great tips.
“Just stay home. It’s safer and helps keep other people safe.”
“Remember every day is a new one and the Coronavirus is not forever. We’ll be normal soon”
“Keep playing, it makes days happier.”
“Turn off the news – it just makes you upset.”
“We all need treats right now – even parents.”
An older child wanted to advise parents not to worry too much about the screen time because playing online games was the only real way he can connect with his friends. “ I would tell my Dad that once this is over, we won’t care as much about the screens and games, we’ll want to spend time with people, not screens.” said another.
Perhaps the best advice we received was this:
“You’re allowed to make mistakes, just say sorry if you do, we all need to be forgiven.” said a wise 9-year-old.” “You just gotta try your best and also you gotta roll with it!”
So – listen to our experts, believe the evidence, and stand proud in your PJ’s, confident in the knowledge that your kids think you are doing a great job.
Judy Koke & Stacey Sheehan
Un-Official Pandemic Life Researchers/MOM’s
Institute for Learning Innovation
Posted Apr 28, 2020