A strong family circle is comprised of people who convey appreciation for one another, stay connected, and are respectful of variations in interests, personal attributes, and capabilities."
Over the last few weeks (going on months, and with no end in sight), families have had to think more carefully about—and also revise—their ways of living and learning together.
During this extended transition period, something has been percolating in many homes—a kind of positive rhythm and shared vibe. It’s a dynamic that parents and children can tap into as they continue to function day by day, side by side, and activity by activity. These are incredibly challenging times, but countless families are discovering that positivity can buoy spirits, temper grief, soothe souls, fortify togetherness, and create forward momentum borne of both necessity and hope. The COVID-19 pandemic is tumultuous and devasting, yet this tempest has also evolved into a “special time” for many parents and children.
It's interesting that the Gifted Unlimited COVIDeo Support poster shows lots of lemons, as a way of illustrating (literally) the wisdom of that old adage, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” It’s no coincidence then, that in my recent COVIDeo recording, I discuss several points that reflect positivity—the sweetness amid the bitterness, if you will. I reiterate some of those points very briefly here, using four headings and a question and answer format, and I convey additional perspectives as well.
There seems to be SO much togetherness because families are confined. How can they become stronger while focused on just getting through each day?
With everyone necessarily spending more time at home, parents are in close proximity to their children (considerably more so than usual), and therefore readily accessible to provide protection, safety, and guidance. All of these are extremely important at this time!
There are many opportunities for families to become stronger together. For example:
What kinds of cooperative living strategies are families adopting during these extended times at home?
Families are learning how to share spaces at home for work, play, technology, solitude, and exercise. In the process, they are reorganizing “stuff”—including furniture, personal belongings, and more. People are coming up with strategic, nuanced, or creative solutions to carve out nooks and crannies that they can use or share at different times. For instance, a cozy corner, a partitioned spot, a repurposed area of the kitchen or other rooms, or maybe even a newly created garden patch. Along the way, parents and kids are also learning about patience, how to adapt routines while still being respectful of everyone’s specific needs, and how to share responsibility for household chores.
What is flexible pacing, why does it matter, and how does it apply to families who are spending more time at home now?
Flexible pacing is a topic I discuss in my productivity and procrastination books. Flexible pacing is about having opportunities to do things (create, work, reflect, play) at a time and rate that best suits individual needs and energy levels, while also taking into consideration contextual issues. Flexibility has to do with respectful give and take. For example, during this difficult COVID-19 outbreak, many families are finding that when pressure to achieve is relaxed, and schedules are eased or revisited, there’s more time for sleeping in, laughter, story-telling, reading, innovative fort-building, puzzles, collaborative cooking, arts and crafts activities, gardening, games, and the pursuit of interests that may have been sidelined—until now.
What immediate advice can you give parents who have been thrust into teaching their children at home?
Three essential keys are for parents and children to co-create education options, to devise individually tailored learning initiatives, and to set reasonable expectations.
Here are some additional tips:
In ABCs of Raising Smarter Kids, I use alliteration as both an organizing element and means of creative expression. For me, creativity is a source of solace and strength. For others, strength—and the powers of possibility and positivity—have different wellsprings. Or outlets.
Families are sheltering at home, and parents are suitably positioned to discover what fuels their children’s passions, what fortifies their well-being, and how to help them navigate these challenging times. With that in mind, I conclude with some concise COVIDeo counsel. Consider:
“Amidst all the unprecedented unraveling of the fabric of our everyday
lives we have to continue to seek the silver lining.”
Joanne Foster, Ed.D. – May, 2020
(For additional articles relating to helping families cope during trying times, see the asterisked material on the Resources Pages of my website.)