What Kids Have Learned During the COVID-19 Pandemic
How important is it, in the middle of a pandemic, that your young child is reading ahead of schedule or can play soccer or the violin? After months of stay-at-home orders and less-than-ideal home schooling, many of us worry we’re failing our children. But if COVID-19 has done nothing else, it’s provided us a great opportunity to examine our priorities — including our parenting — and focus on the most valuable ways we influence and enrich our children’s lives:
- Our love. Researchers say parental love actually helps a child’s brain grow. It also builds self-esteem and makes kids healthier overall.
- Our presence. Through a difficult — some might even say traumatic — time, many of us have worked to be emotionally and physically present for our children. It isn’t easy. But those family activities with children during quarantine have let kids know they matter — even when times are tough.
- Our habits. Do you speak kindly to strangers? Cook well-rounded meals? Laugh off mistakes? Habits that seem basic to you, like meditating or praying, or taking care of yourself when you are sick, are unspoken “teaching moments” for your kids. The positive ways that you have coped with instability, economic downturn and other challenges of COVD-19 are modeling behavior and attitudes that your children will carry through life.
- Our traditions. Whether you’re singing traditional folk songs or dancing the hora at a cousin’s Zoom wedding, by celebrating your culture and heritage you help your kids feel connected to something bigger than themselves. (And singing in any language builds early literacy skills!) Each individual family has its own important traditions, too, like sharing life skills, and passing down an appreciation for the music, books and hobbies parents enjoy. (You also have the privilege of creating any new traditions you want. Tickle Tuesdays, anyone?)
- Our values. Is your child honest? Tolerant? Resilient? Many experts believe character education is even more important than school learning, and recent studies suggest that self-compassion, even more than self-esteem, is key to life success. Articulate your family’s values and work together to live up to them.
And while the debate continues about when to reopen K-12 schools –– most recently with the Southern California Academy of Pediatricians stating that the benefits of in-person school outweigh the risks of COVID-19 –– many early education settings remain open. Research has shown that COVID-19 transmission rates are low in child care settings when following state guidelines, meaning in-person education may be something you might want to consider for your preschool-aged child. To learn more about early care and education safety guidelines including how to access child care, visit the LA County Early Childhood Education COVID-19 Response Team’s website: childcareheroes.org.
So, give yourself a break. You’ve got this, just by being you — and there’s a lot of evidence that the good enough parent is the best parent of all.