Katie Kurutz-Ulloa | First 5 LA Communications Specialist

April 30, 2020

Since March, schools and child care centers throughout the nation have closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, thrusting many parents and caregivers into new and unfamiliar roles as full-time educators. When added to the sudden shift to remote work, the closure of businesses, mass layoffs and furloughs, and the ongoing threat of infection for workers in essential sectors, these closures have created a tumultuous situation for families.”

In response to state-issued social distancing directives, news outlets across the nation began issuing how-to articles to support parents and caregivers in their new role as educators. With articles ranging from keeping routines by developing color-coded charts to tips on “dos and don’ts” to help your child stay “on-track,” the main focus was on how to set up a new learning environment at home.

In addition to the many how-to articles, news outlets began to spread the word about online curricula, while television stations and shows like PBS and Sesame Street began shifting content to support at-home learning. Additionally, high-profile celebrities like LeVar Burton, Dolly Parton and former First Lady Michelle Obama began posting reading hours for kids.

But how are parents and caregivers taking this all in? Soon after the deluge of resources and tips for parents flooded news outlets, op-eds and stories from parents themselves began shedding light on how families were adjusting. In her powerfully titled op-ed, “I Refuse to Run a Coronavirus Home School,” Dr. Jennie Weiner, an associate professor of educational leadership, explained why she and her husband chose not to become hypercompetitive home-schooling parents, but rather meet their kids’ basic needs and acknowledge their own limits with their children.

Continuing the outcry, authors like Sarah Garland for The Hechinger Report or Chloe Cooney for Medium emphasized the strain of trying to do it all while facing a global health threat. “We’re all exhausted, some of us are going hungry, and more and more of us are getting sick,” said Garland in her reflection.“Forget home-schooling success — most of us are struggling to get our kids to do the basics that would have accounted for a Saturday-morning routine before this pandemic,” said Cooney.

Some outlets published reassuring responses to desperate parents’ calls. Atlantic author Mary Katharine Ham wrote, “It’s Okay to Be a Different Kind of Parent During the Pandemic,” and New York Times author Jessica Grose wrote that finding time to cry counts as self-care. “I think it’s really important to realize you can’t instantly be school,” said author and parent Kimberly Harrington in an interview with PBS NewsHour.

As time marches on and schools stay closed, families will likely find new ways of navigating life at home. To help them, we have compiled a list of articles highlighting parent’s struggles, as well as advice and resources. We hope you find this compilation useful for yourself or families you know, as we all look for ways to adjust to the new normal.

Parent Struggles

The Washington Post: What it’s like to be a single parent in a pandemic

As the virus that causes covid-19 spreads, health experts have instructed businesses, schools and parents to plan. Plan to stockpile necessary prescriptions. (Stine, 3/17/20)

The New York Times: ‘It Is a Nightmare Out Here’: Seattle Parents Struggle to Balance Work and Child Care

One of the first major cities to face coronavirus is now dealing with a child care shortage. (Caron, 3/17/20)

New York Times Parenting: Parents Need Stress Relief, Too

Because I can’t run during every one of my waking hours, I asked two psychiatrists what parents can do to keep the coronavirus-anxiety at bay. (Grose, 3/18/20)

The Washington Post: Kids are carriers. Grandparents are vulnerable. Now parents must make wrenching choices.
The gravity of our new reality is setting in, and Americans are beginning to grasp the sacrifices required to slow the spread of the virus, which has left families wondering how to protect their loved ones. (Gibson, 3/18/20)

The New York Times: I Refuse to Run a Coronavirus Home School

My kids are watching TV, playing video games and eating cookies. It’s fine. (Weiner, 3/19/20)

WAMU: ‘I Can’t Do This Forever’: With Schools Closed, Frazzled Parents Juggle Child Care And Work
Zunnobia Hakir keeps her 6-year-old son’s schedule busy. There are piano lessons and chess club, chorus and sign language classes. (Truong, 3/20/20)

Bloomberg: What It’s Like to Quarantine With Kids
The extra screen time isn’t all bad. (Brustein, 3/25/20)

The Washington Post: Advice for parents who are feeling isolated: ‘Ask for what you need, give what you can’
I reached out to friends around the world not only to commiserate, but also to crowdsource ideas for how best to build new models of human connection during what may become a prolonged period of separation. (Makhijani, 4/1/20)

The New York Times Parenting: Single Parents Are Struggling, but Enduring, Through the Pandemic

NYT Parenting readers share their stories. (Blum, 4/3/20)

PBS News Hour: Should parents lower the bar while working from home?
With the growing coronavirus outbreak, millions of parents in the U.S. are being asked to work from home while also caring for their children. Balancing the two may seem like an impossible task. (Green, 4/5/20)

The Los Angeles Times: Stress levels are high for parents. They worry kids will fall behind in school, survey finds
Parents across California are more stressed than usual, and school — or lack thereof — is a major source, according to a statewide survey of 1,200 public school parents commissioned by a nonprofit research and advocacy group. (Kohli, 4/8/20)

The Atlantic: It’s Okay to Be a Different Kind of Parent During the Pandemic
When something outside your control changes your life, it’s what you do with what you can control that really shapes your children. (Ham, 4/8/20)

Forbes: Cooped Up With Your Kids? Closeness Both Creates And Relieves Stress.
We are all feeling profound stress during the coronavirus outbreak. But parents feel that stress in a particular way, because they are stuck at home in close quarters with their children. (Escalante, 4/8/20)

The New York Times Parenting: Crying in Your Car Counts as Self-Care
One highlight of my week was crying in the car on my way to the grocery store. That sounds bleak as hell, but let me explain. (Grose, 4/8/20)

EdSource: Parents worrying about coronavirus’ toll on children’s learning, survey finds
Poll respondents do credit the efforts of school districts and Gov. Newsom. (Fensterwald, 4/23/20)

Wisconsin Public Radio: Parent Explains Why She’s Not Teaching Her Kids During COVID-19 Pandemic
Our guest says that while she’s making a good-faith effort to have her sons do their homework, she explains why she’s refusing to recreate school for them. (Cohen, 4/13/20)

Wisconsin Public Radio: Parent Explains Why She’s Not Teaching Her Kids During COVID-19 Pandemic
Our guest says that while she’s making a good-faith effort to have her sons do their homework, she explains why she’s refusing to recreate school for them. (Cohen, 4/13/20)

Tips on Supporting Kids

EdSurge: How to Keep School Rhythm and Routines for Young Children at Home

As schools shift to remote learning models for the foreseeable future, parents and caregivers are finding themselves in a new role—that of the school co-teacher. Though parents are naturally a part of their children’s ongoing education, co-teaching is a new role for many of them. (Richards & Valentine, 3/17/20)

The Conversation: 3 smart ways to use screen time while coronavirus keeps kids at home
Rather than handing over the remote or the iPad, parents can help young children by choosing media that’s worthwhile. By the time children are about age 3, high-quality media like “Sesame Street” can help them learn about words, numbers and even important facts about how to stay safe, research has shown. (Dore, 3/18/20)

The Washington Post: ‘How do I plan a lesson?’ Here is a teacher’s guide for parents reluctantly home-schooling their kids.
‘What if my kids won’t listen to me?’ (Strauss, 3/19/20)

The New York Times: How to Home School During Coronavirus
It’s not easy, even for professionals. Start with these sample lesson plans. (Hill, 3/20/20)

PopSugar: Even If Homeschooling Is Stressful, These Teachers Explain Why You Need to Keep at It
For parents with school-age children, the past week was arduous. Just as we were trying to navigate work schedules sans child care, we were also being thrust into the role of homeschool teacher. (Schweitzer, 3/23/20)

San Gabriel Valley Tribune: How to turn your living space into a home office, home school and more during coronavirus
Tips on modifying your home during the coronavirus pandemic, turning it to a multifunctional space with multiple offices and kids’ workspaces while maintaining places to chill. (Bozanich, 3/24/20)

Mashable: 5 keys to successful online learning at home
Not everything went smoothly when The Harbour School in Hong Kong turned to virtual learning in November after protests shut down the private school for a few days. (Lindenfeld Hall, 3/25/20)

The Washington Post: A home school plan that’s realistic, not sadistic
As the founder of PrepMatters, a tutoring and educational counseling company, I’ve come up with tips to help you and your children get through this time together. (Johnson, 3/30/20)

The Washington Post: A complete list of what to do — and not do — for everyone teaching kids at home during the coronavirus crisis
If you want a thorough rundown of what to do and not to do, read the following 19 strategies from renowned master educator Andy Hargreaves. (Strauss, 4/8/20)

The New York Times: Agonizing Over Screen Time? Follow the Three C’s
Parents can let down their guard a bit. What matters is child, content and context.
(Cheng & Wilkinson, 4/13/20)

The New York Times: How to Get Your Kids to Treat You Like Their Teacher
Here’s how to create a space and habits that keep kids engaged with schoolwork at home. (Finch, 4/21/20)


The Los Angeles Times: Got kids under 5? Use the coronavirus-quarantine school resources for parents – As the parent of a young child trying to survive under quarantine, Instagram, WhatsApp and YouTube have become my best friends. (Sharp, 3/17/20)

The New York Times: Children Stuck at Home Can Still Explore the Zoo or Aquarium. Some Penguins Could, Too.
Hippos, otters and penguins can be viewed through webcams, virtual tours and “home safaris.” And at one aquarium, penguins strolled through the exhibits. (Padilla & Vigdor, 3/18/20)

USA Today: 18 totally free educational resources for kids stuck at home
With the coronavirus pandemic keeping everyone indoors, you’re facing weeks—potentially months—of spending time at home with your kids. Whether your school is providing “distance learning” resources, or whether you’re venturing into homeschooling unassisted, you’re still going to have quite a few hours that need to be filled with activities. (Lane, 3/18/20)

WHYY: Social distancing with the kids? WHYY offering expanded educational programming on PBS
As parents and caregivers throughout the region juggle work and/or working from home, kids stuck in the house, and social distancing, WHYY has expanded its TV and online educational programming as the coronavirus pandemic keeps more and more families indoors. (3/19/20)

CNN: Keep kids entertained and educated with these 20 activities
Schools shutting down to help reduce the spread of coronavirus has become reality for millions of families these past few weeks. Unlike a finite, planned school vacation, this unexpected limbo can throw off even the most organized parents. In other words, we’re in uncharted territory here, folks. (Vercelletto, 3/19/20)

Quartz: We are all teachers now: resources for parents and kids cooped up at home
More than 861 million children are learning from home now, as schools globally shutter to try and slow the spread of Covid-19. (Anderson, 3/20/20)

Forbes: 8 Of The Best Games And Toys For Toddlers
Many schools and daycares across the country are closed right now due to coronavirus, and that means you may have a toddler home with you. However, unlike their older, more self-sufficient counterparts, toddlers need a lot of entertainment. (Miller, 3/24/20)

The Cut: 20 of the Best Children’s Books for Uncertain Times
Four children’s books is the norm for bedtime with my 4-and-a-half-year-old daughter, though that is subject to the night’s choreography. (Bruce-Eddings, 3/24/20)

WIRED: 11 Great Games to Educate and Entertain Your Kids at Home
Worried your kids will rot their brains on movies and TV? Try these “edutaining” games instead. (Gilbertson, 3/25/20)

Forbes: Homeschooling Amid The Coronavirus Pandemic Just Got Easier
In the face of long term school closures, Common Sense Media, a nonprofit whose mission is to help kids, families and educators coexist in a world of technology, has brought together select education, tech and media partners to help support the difficult transition to e-learning. (Moon, 4/1/20)

Variety: Why LeVar Burton Is Launching a Live-Streaming Reading Series on Twitter: ‘I’m a Storyteller’
LeVar Burton, known to many Americans as the longtime host of PBS’s “Reading Rainbow,” wants to spread the love during the coronavirus crisis with a new story-reading series he’s launching on Twitter — for kids and adults. (Spangler, 4/2/20)

Huffington Post: Fun Online Classes For Kids To Learn, Create And Move At Home
Keeping bored kids entertained isn’t easy, especially if you’re trying to avoid them streaming shows or playing video games all day. (Gonzalez, 4/3/20)

LAist: Coronavirus Storytime: Here’s Where To Find Celebrities Reading Children’s Books Online
In mid-March, comedian and actor Josh Gad started reading children’s books online (#GadBookClub) to give parents a brief respite from home schooling. We took a look around the web and found these other celebs sharing kid lit. (Ziemba, 4/6/20)

The New York Times: Are Your Children Stuck Inside? So Are These Kids
Books about quarantined, confined and adrift young people, from “The Cat in the Hat” to “Life of Pi,” for the cooped-up young people in your home. (Egan, 4/7/20)

INSIDER: 11 books to help children cope with school closings, not seeing friends, and feeling anxious
Children’s lives across the globe have been upended due to the coronavirus pandemic. (Cavanagh, 4/7/20)

Brookings: Playful learning in everyday places during the COVID-19 crisis—and beyond
Now more than ever we see the imperative of expanding opportunities for playful learning—that is, child-directed experiences that are driven by curiosity and exploration—outside of the classroom. (Hadani & Vey, 4/7/20)

The Washington Post: If online learning isn’t working for your kids, try public television and radio stations
Online offerings are sometimes nonexistent or spotty at best, and getting paper work packets to students is a near impossibility with much of the country’s public life shut down because of the covid-19 crisis. (Strauss, 4/14/20)

POPSUGAR: This Simple Math Puzzle Has Made Homeschooling My Preschooler a Lot More Enjoyable
Like many other parents of young children, I went from being a working mother to a homeschooling mother in a matter of days. (Manaker, 4/15/20)

LAist: Here’s Your Guide To All Of The Online Activities For Your Kids That We Could Find
After weeks of being inside with their children, many parents may be running short on things to do. We’ve compiled this list of online activities, learning sites, and fun things to keep them occupied and active. (Perez, 4/21/20)