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The head's perspective Making sense of life and learning in the time of Coronavirus

As Moorestown Friends School moves online to Virtual MFS, you may be trying to wrap your mind around what it will mean for you and your family to work and learn remotely. Like you, I am spending a lot of time considering how to support my family while still working and making sense of the latest news surrounding COVID-19. This Head's Perspective is dedicated completely to resources and ideas for making the most of the remote experience and managing the stress that may come with it. My goal is not to give you direct advice, per se, but to connect you with expertise, resources, and ideas to make life a bit easier and perhaps a little more fun. As a community, we are better together!

Setting up your space

As your child gears up for learning at home, you should consider how you can best set your student up for success. Without physically being at school, they may need help mentally preparing for being in "school mode." Carving out a dedicated space where your child can focus on school is a helpful exercise for everyone. Removing distractions, identifying good lighting, and making sure they have access to the materials they need will allow them focus on learning.

Not everyone will have the ability to create a dedicated workspace in the home, as many of you may be working from home, too, and now there are more people sharing a limited space. Consider a corner, a desk, or even an end of the kitchen table that can be your child's space for learning. If that's not possible, what might your child need in a mobile area to get their work done? You could have a box where they can fit their device, notebook, pencils, and other supplies, so if they have to move spaces during the day, they can do so smoothly and efficiently. There is no need to spend money to make these changes in your home, but it is valuable to take the time to consider where and how your child will learn.

Even young learners need a designated space where they can learn, work, and be creative. Maintaining a routine is particularly helpful for kids of all ages.

Social distancing

As COVID-19 cases increase in the United States, the CDC has recommended social distancing. Businesses, museums, places of worship, and schools are temporarily closing around the country in an effort to limit the spread of the virus.

As we move to Virtual MFS, we all have concern for our children. It's important that they stay connected to their friends and teachers, while also avoiding gathering in groups. Experts agree that how you practice social distancing will vary depending on your risk level, your context, and your circumstances. You may have questions about playdates, informal gatherings, or birthday parties. I would encourage you to read up on social distancing, as guidelines are getting more stringent by the day. The more we limit our contact outside of the home, the more we can make a difference in our communities. Please refer to the CDC and other sources for the most up-to-date advice.

well-being and stress

At a time of social distancing, it's even more important for all of us to stay healthy, take frequent breaks, and get outside to connect with nature. Say hello to friends on FaceTime, check in on family members, and reach out to find a sense of connection. Let's be honest, it can be tough to have the entire family in the same house for an extended period of time. I hope you will extend grace to yourself, your children, and their teachers, as we are all working to balance our many responsibilities. I always try to remember that people are generally doing the best they can do, which is an important reminder to be understanding especially during times of stress.

Our lives are typically so busy that we rarely have time with our families. This extended time at home may be an unexpected opportunity to build in more time for PDF--Playtime, Downtime, and Family time--which experts say are important moments for children to find balance. Consider making a meal together, having a game night, or learning something new together with your children.

get creative

Your child's teachers will be in touch with details on how to structure the school day and how best to support your child's learning. I would encourage you to think of additional ways that you could help your child connect with their experience and reflect in new ways. Life in the time of Coronavirus may prompt a variety of questions or thoughts from your child. Consider keeping a journal with your children about their experience. Go outside and take photos to connect with nature and capture life at home. Create a book of this unique moment in time as a way to process and articulate feelings in creative ways.

The "What's Going on in This Picture?" series from The New York Times is a wonderful weekly opportunity to have online discussion and to do close reading of photos.

There are also many ways to encourage your child to write, tell stories, or think critically about the world around them. The New York Times has great resources on writing prompts for kids, picture prompts for telling stories, and discussion boards for thinking critically about photos.

As we are all facing this health crisis together, many of us are thinking about those most vulnerable. You and your family may want to find ways to give back to your community, either local or global. It's always a good idea to check on your elderly neighbors and call those relatives or friends who may be living alone. You could challenge them to a collaborative online game or invite them to FaceTime. You could encourage your child to read to a neighbor over Google Hangout or simply keep them company, virtually. More formally, you can contact your local food bank to see what donations they are accepting, or you could lend your skills through online volunteering with the United Nations. You could also buy a gift card from your favorite small business or restaurant to use at a later date but to help support them in the short term.

There are many creative ways to help your child process this experience while also considering the wider community.

Although life during Coronavirus may seem to have a lot of downsides, I also believe that unforeseen challenges can often generate the most creative ideas. For example, on the last day of face-to-face classes, our Seniors decided to turn up the music, bring in a disco ball, and greet students at school with a dance party. We can learn a lot from the young people in our lives about how to maintain optimism in a time of uncertainty. I wish everyone a smooth transition to more extended time at home. MFS looks forward to continuing to be a resource for you in the coming days and weeks. Thank you for your support and partnership.

Seniors celebrating the last day of face-to-face classes on March 13.
Created By
Julia de la Torre
Appreciate

Credits:

Created with images by Emma Matthews Digital Content Production - "Letter Board Flat Lay" • Choi Ben - "untitled image" • Jamie Street - "untitled image" • Bruno Nascimento - "untitled image" • Micheile Henderson - "untitled image"