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pandemic

Black Americans homeschool for different reasons than whites

By Mahala Dyer Stewart Visiting Assistant Professor of Sociology, Hamilton College. | June 1, 2020 8.31am EDT

When Michelle, a white stay-at-home mom, decided to homeschool her 8-year-old daughter, Emily, the decision was driven by what she saw as the lack of individualized attention at school.

“We wound up feeling frustrated that the school wasn’t following the child,” Michelle, a former communications specialist, explained of the decision by she and her husband, a software engineer, to homeschool their daughter.

She described her daughter as “exceptionally gifted” and said after repeated attempts to get her daughter’s school to provide advanced coursework, “it just felt like so much energy that I might as well do this thing myself.”

Michelle’s decision to homeschool stands in stark contrast to that of Lynette, a black mother who told me her son, Trevor, was 7 when he started having a hard time in school.

“I don’t want to say that it was bullying but that’s what it kind of ended up being and it wasn’t from students,” Lynette explained. “It was from teachers.”

“He’s 7 but he looks like he’s 10,” Lynette continued. “And they kind of acted like they were afraid of him. He’s never acted out violently but they made it sound like he was going to.”

Like Michelle, Lynette grew tired of making visits to her child’s school, but for a different reason.

“I just didn’t want to have to keep going to the principal’s office,” Lynette recalled during an interview at a cafe in the suburbs of a Northeastern city. “I’m like ‘you’re really targeting my kid for no reason because he’s the second biggest kid in the school.’”

Motives differ

The sharp contrast between Michelle and Lynette’s reason for homeschooling their children is common.

As a sociologist who has interviewed dozens of homeschooling parents, I’ve found that whereas most white parents homeschool to make sure their children get an education more tailored to their needs and talents, most black parents homeschool to remove their children from what they see as a racially hostile environment.

Now that schools are closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, families of all racial, ethnic and class backgrounds have been forced to spend more time educating their children at home, or at least making sure their children do whatever work the school has assigned.

It is unclear as to whether schools will reopen in the fall. It is also unclear how homeschooling – or at least the ability to oversee at-home learning – will be impacted by the pandemic. Based on existing research and data, I don’t see why reasons that parents previously decided to homeschool – whether they are black or white – will change or disappear. However, concerns about sending their children back to school amid the pandemic could become an additional reason.

Black students disciplined more

There is no shortage of research to support the view that America’s public schools treat black students more harshly than their white peers.

For example, a study by sociologists Edward Morris and Brea Perry found black boys are twice as likely as white boys to receive disciplinary action such as office referral, detention, suspension or expulsion. The same study found black girls are three times as likely as white girls to be disciplined for less serious and arguably more ambiguous behavior, such as disruptive behavior, dress code violations or disobedience.

The middle-class black mothers I interviewed say that despite their college education, salaries and advocacy on behalf of their children, they were unable to protect their children from the racial hostilities at school. The black families I spoke with told me they chose to homeschool only after they tried in vain to address discriminatory discipline practices at their children’s schools.

Money matters

Though the reasons why families chose to homeschool varies by race, I and other researchers have found that homeschooling is more common among two-parent households where one parent is the breadwinner and the other – most often the mother – educates the children. Homeschooling parents are also most often college-educated. One 2013 study found that among the 54 black homeschooling families interviewed, 42 of the families had one parent with at least a college degree, while many (19) also had graduate degrees.

If the ability to work from home makes it possible to homeschool, although incredibly challenging, data also suggest that homeschooling is more likely among families with higher incomes. That’s because the ability to work from home is largely tied to income. Federal labor data show that in 2017 and 2018, 61.5% of workers in the top income quartile could work from home. For workers in the second highest quartile, 37.3% could work from home. But for those in third and fourth highest income quartiles, only 20.1% and 9.1%, respectively, could work from home.

If reducing the risk of exposing their children to COVID-19 becomes a reason to homeschool this fall, these data would suggest that more well-to-do families are in a better position to see that their children are educated at home. By contrast, low-wage workers are less likely to easily exercise this choice. Some scholars speculate that this will lead to more well-off families deciding to continue their children’s learning at-home as a way to avoid virus exposure.

Future growth?

The percentage of U.S. children who are homeschooled rather than attending public and private schools was rising before the pandemicBetween 1999 and 2016, the percentage of the school age population who were homeschooled doubled from 1.7% to 3.3%, or close to 1.7 million students.

Black homeschoolers account for roughly 8% of this population, up from an estimated 4% in 2007. The 8% in 2016 represents 132,000 black homeschooling kids, according to the NCES data.

In 2017, black kids made up 15% of public school students, or 7.7 million kids of the roughly 50.7 million public school kids that year.

2019 federal report shows parents homeschool for a variety of reasons. Just 16% of homeschool families report moral or religious instruction as the primary reason for homeschooling, while 34% report their primary reason is concern with school environment. This report does not document how reasons vary by race. Yet my study would suggest that black parents, like Lynette, may be dissatisfied with school environment in very different ways than white parents, like Michelle.

U.S. suspends protections for migrant kids at border, expelling hundreds amid pandemic

BY CAMILO MONTOYA-GALVEZ | UPDATED ON: MAY 7, 2020 / 8:02 PM / CBS NEWS

María does not know what to do. Her request for U.S. asylum was denied. Her authorization to be in Mexico, contingent on having an ongoing U.S. immigration case, has expired. And now, the U.S. has sent her 10-year-old son alone to Honduras, where she fled an abusive partner who threatened to kill her if she returns.

After losing their asylum case under the Remain-in-Mexico policy, which has granted protection to just 1.1% of the migrants who have completed their proceedings under the program, María allowed Jesús, her young son, to cross the border alone to turn himself over to U.S. officials, thinking he would be allowed to reunite with family in Texas and seek refuge in the U.S. under long-standing policies for unaccompanied migrant minors.

Instead, Jesús was placed on a deportation flight to Honduras within four days of encountering U.S. immigration officials, who have been granted broad emergency powers during the coronavirus pandemic.

“He was desperate,” María told CBS News in Spanish, referring to her son. “He wanted to be in the U.S. with his uncle because he did not want to go back to Honduras to suffer. ‘I do not want to live with that man again so he can mistreat me,’ he told me.”

For the first time in decades, children like Jesús who show up at the southern border without their parents or legal guardians are being summarily expelled and denied access to protections that have been afforded to them under U.S. law. The shift is being justified under a 17-page public health order the Trump administration believes allows border officials to bypass asylum, immigration and anti-trafficking laws.

Under the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) order, first issued on March 20 and renewed for another 30 days late last month, border officials have expelled thousands of unauthorized migrants to Mexico or their home countries and denied most asylum-seekers the opportunity to request humanitarian protections created by Congress.

In the last 11 days of March alone, officials expelled at least 299 unaccompanied children under the public health order. Expulsions in April are expected to be released Thursday, according to a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) spokesman, but data from the U.S. refugee agency responsible for caring for these minors suggests that most unaccompanied children have been denied entry since the emergency order took effect.

The Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) received only 58 children from border officials in April, according to government data obtained by CBS News. In March, including the 11 days under the order, border officials referred 1,852 children to the agency.

Before the worst weeks of the pandemic, the office was getting as many as 77 migrant minors on a given day. Since the order’s implementation, especially in April, daily referrals from border officials have hovered around the single digits. On some days, the agency has not received any minors.

Because the refugee agency has continued to release children to relatives and sponsors in the U.S. during the pandemic, the number of unaccompanied migrant minors in its custody has plummeted, falling to 1,648 this week — a population not seen since late 2011, according to an administration official. Last April, during an unprecedented wave of U.S.-bound migrant families and children, the office had 12,500 minors in its care. 

The administration has argued that the CDC order invoking a 1940s-era public health law is necessary to block the entry of migrants who could be carrying the coronavirus and cause outbreaks inside immigration jails that would overwhelm the public health system along the border. Migrant children, top officials have argued, pose the same threat to the U.S. as adults during the pandemic.

“The disease doesn’t know age,” Acting CBP Commissioner Mark Morgan told reporters last month. “When [minors] come across the border, they pose an absolute, concrete public health risk to this country and everybody they come in contact with.”

While officials like Morgan have maintained that the turn-back order was not a matter of immigration policy, it accomplishes an objective the Trump administration has pursued for over three years: shutting off access to humanitarian protections for immigrants who hardliners see as chiefly economic migrants.

“The administration is using coronavirus and the pandemic as a cover for doing what it has always wanted to do, which was to close the border to children,” Jennifer Nagda, the policy director at the Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights, told CBS News. “There is no reason why unaccompanied children arriving at the border can’t be safely screened and transferred to ORR custody, where capacity is at an all-time low.”

“There is no real public health justification for turning these children away at the border — and it absolutely violates federal law,” Nagda added.


“I didn’t know where they had him”

María said she and Jesús left Honduras last year after being threatened by her former partner. She said her other three children stayed at her mother’s home, where they had been living.

CBS News is not disclosing María or Jesús’ real names to protect their identities.

Upon reaching and crossing the U.S.-Mexico border in September 2019, María and her son were placed in the Remain in Mexico program, formally known as the Migrant Protection Protocols or MPP, according to U.S. government documents reviewed by CBS News. For months, they lived in the tent city in Matamoros, Mexico, the largest refugee camp along the U.S.-Mexico border. They entered the U.S. three times to attend their court hearings at a makeshift immigration court in Brownsville, Texas.
 
In March, an immigration judge denied the family’s petition for humanitarian protection in the U.S. María said she found herself in an agonizing position. She feared her son could be hurt if they returned to Honduras. She was also concerned about his safety in the squalid tent camp in Matamoros, located in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas, which the U.S. government warns Americans not to visit because of the rampant violence and crime there.

Migrant children play with cardboard boxes at a migrant encampment where more than 2,000 people live while seeking asylum in the U.S., while the spread of Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, in Matamoros
Migrant children play with cardboard boxes at a migrant encampment where more than 2,000 people live while seeking asylum in the U.S., in Matamoros, Mexico, on April 9, 2020.REUTERS

So María followed the lead of other asylum-seeking parents in the MPP program and let Jesús cross the border without her, since unaccompanied minors are supposed to be excluded from the Remain in Mexico policy. Between October 2019 and last month, at least 571 children in the custody of the U.S. refugee agency have said their parents were in Mexico under the policy, according to government data obtained by CBS News.

In a letter Wednesday, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus denounced reports by advocates that the U.S. refugee agency has been delaying the release of children with pending Remain in Mexico cases. Last month, a federal judge said the agency can’t block the release of children with sponsors simply because they were formerly in Mexico with their family and have a pending case linked to the MPP program.

According to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Jesús was turned over to the agency on April 20, one day after Border Patrol agents encountered and processed him under the public health order. On April 24, ICE sent him to Honduras on a deportation flight, the agency said. 

But María said she did not find out about her son’s fate until a week after he was expelled to San Pedro Sula, Honduras. Her cousin in Tegucigalpa, the country’s capital, was the one who told her, she said. Honduran immigration officials reached her six days after Jesús’ removal. “I was scared about my son’s whereabouts. I didn’t know where they had him,” she said.

María’s cousin has agreed to take care of Jesús for the time being. The 10-year-old boy is still shocked and distressed, María said.

“This is the first time we have been separated. That’s why he is sad. ‘When are you coming, mommy?’ he has asked me,” she added. “They told me he spent his days at the shelter crying.”

Dr. Amy Cohen, a child welfare expert and executive director of the group Every Last One, which works with asylum-seeking minors, helped María locate her child and arranged for him to stay with family members in Honduras. Faulting the U.S. government, Cohen said it would’ve been nearly impossible for the Honduran mother to locate her son if she had not received outside help.

“This child, for all intents and purposes, is now alone in Honduras. He’s 10-years-old. He has been traumatized and separated from his mother,” Cohen told CBS News.


“Complete dereliction”

The rapid expulsion of unaccompanied children like Jesús from U.S. soil upends decades of legal safeguards that underage migrants have been granted for years, particularly those classified as unaccompanied.

When the Department of Homeland Security was created in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, Congress charged the Office of Refugee Resettlement with caring for unaccompanied minors, which had been the responsibility of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, a Justice Department branch with law enforcement functions that was disbanded. 

Under a 2008 law, border officials generally must transfer unaccompanied migrant children who are not from Mexico or Canada to the U.S. refugee agency within three days of their apprehension, except in extraordinary circumstances. 

Once in the U.S., immigration law dictates that unaccompanied migrant minors can’t be placed in a fast-tracked deportation process known as “expedited removal” and must be connected with legal services providers and child advocates. They are to be placed in the “least restrictive” shelters and facilities.

U.S. law stipulates that unaccompanied children can also have their asylum applications decided by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, rather than an immigration judge. Migrant minors, unlike adults, also have other avenues beyond asylum to seek safe haven in the U.S. Those who can prove they have been neglected, abandoned or abused by one or both parents can request “Special Immigrant Juvenile Status,” which creates a pathway to U.S. citizenship.

The care of unaccompanied children in U.S. custody is also governed by the landmark 1997 Flores Settlement Agreement, which also covers minors in families. Under the settlement, minors must be detained in safe and sanitary facilities, and the government must make a continuing effort to release them to qualified sponsors. 

The Trump administration has sought to alter, limit or completely scrap most of these laws and protections, arguing that they encourage unauthorized migration of children, particularly from poverty-stricken and violence-ridden parts of Central America. But Jennifer Podkul, vice president of Kids in Need of Defense, a group that provides legal services to unaccompanied minors, said these safeguards were purposely established to protect them.

“Congress passed legislation with incredible bipartisan support, recognizing that this is a particularly vulnerable population, to make sure that these kids aren’t summarily returned but rather that they have the opportunity to talk to a social worker, talk to a lawyer and talk to a judge, so that the United States can be sure they are not sending a kid back to danger,” Podkul told CBS News. “That was Congress’ intent.”

Pablo Rodriguez, an attorney at the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services who works with unaccompanied minors in U.S. immigration custody, said children fleeing to the U.S. are still in need of protection, even during a pandemic.

“Just because there is a pandemic going on does not mean that the reasons the children flee, the reasons why people are coming to the United States, have changed,” Rodriguez told CBS News. “They are still fleeing gang violence, and a lot of other push-and-pull factors are still at play.”

Border officials citing the CDC order have also altered the long-standing definition of an “unaccompanied” migrant child as a minor who is encountered at the border without a parent or legal guardian. The administration has told Congress it is now classifying minors who come to the border with other family members as “accompanied” and expelling them as a family.

Under an informal agreement between the U.S. and Mexico, Mexican officials agreed to receive Central American families and single adults expelled by the U.S. under the public health order but not unaccompanied minors, a Mexican government official told CBS News. However, a CBP spokesman said Tuesday that unaccompanied children could be expelled to Mexico through a port of entry, or in an ICE deportation flight.

CBP has said its agents could exclude unaccompanied minors from the public health order on a case-by-case basis if they see signs of trafficking or illness, or if the child’s expulsion to her home country is not immediately possible. A CBP spokesman did not provide more details about when agents could exclude children. “If specific circumstances guaranteeing exemptions from title 42 expulsion were to be made public, they would be exploited by human smugglers,” the spokesman said.

Nagda, the policy director at the Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights, is worried about the potential asylum and protection requests that the U.S. is no longer hearing from children.

“What is most terrifying about this situation is the complete dereliction of any sense of either our legal obligation or moral obligation to very vulnerable children who are coming to our borders,” she said. “We have no idea who these children are and we have no idea where they’re going.”

Meanwhile, in the refugee camp in Matamoros, María is now contemplating returning to Honduras. 

“Yes, I’m scared to go back — but my son is there now,” she said.

‘Your Child Is So Lucky To Have You As A Parent’: Local Special Education Teacher Writes Pandemic Parenting Guide

By Brenda Waters | May 21, 2020 at 7:56 pm

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – It’s been a rough few months for parents. Schools, parks, playgrounds — all closed.

For many parents during the age of COVID-19, home is now the classroom, the office and the center of entertainment.

Dr. Rachel Schwartz, a special education teacher and consultant for the Watson Institute has written an article called “Thoughts for Families in a Hard Time.” She went over a few points with KDKA’s Brenda Waters.

“Connect” was at the top of the list. She says when things get tough people tend to want to pull in, grit their teeth and bear it. But she says that’s not a good idea. She says parents need to reach out — to other resources, to the community, to their church.

“Routine” is another point.

“The routine is that we live our life following routines, all of us do. Our children have routines and now with covid, all of that was blown out of the water. Now we need to establish a new routine.”

Dr. Schwartz says parents also need to focus on what is most important at the moment and if you children act out, don’t take it personally, they too are dealing with difficult times.

The next one may be a little tough and that is “relax.” But that’s what Dr. Schwartz wants parents to adhere to the most.

“You are everything your child needs. Your child is so lucky to have you as a parent, you are giving them love, the best academia, all of the things they need right now,” she says.

Dr. Schwartz says she wanted to make these points now during National Mental Health Month.

Poll: Minority and low-income parents most worried about their students’ success

Lorraine Longhi, Arizona RepublicPublished 7:33 p.m. MT May 20, 2020 | Updated 7:51 a.m. MT May 21, 2020

About four in 10 Arizona parents believe the state’s management of K-12 education was good or excellent amid the coronavirus health pandemic, according to a new ASU Morrison Institute-Arizona Republic poll.

K-12 school administration received the highest positive rating of any other government entity listed, including federal, state, local and tribal.

The online survey was conducted in late April and early May. Gov. Doug Ducey and Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman ordered schools closed on March 15 to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.

District, charter and private schools quickly converted to remote learning. Some provided students with printouts, while others moved to virtual lessons and emailed work. 

Impact on low-income students

The poll highlights a divide between lower-income and higher-income families when it comes to accessing the necessary technology for online learning.

Parents with children from low-income families polled were less likely to say that their children have the necessary technology for online learning.

Low-income families were also less likely to say that their children are actively engaged in online learning.

In contrast, parents of children from higher-income brackets were more concerned that their child will fall behind in school and that COVID-19 will compromise the likelihood their child will graduate high school.

Richie Taylor, a spokesman for the Arizona Department of Education, said that the findings came as no surprise. He said low-income families and the schools that serve them are at more of a disadvantage when it comes to accessing technology and resources that make it easier to pivot to online learning.

“That’s why it’s so critical to provide support and resources to fill those gaps we know exist,” he said.

During the past two months, some schools got creative to help their students. A Tucson district parked buses with WiFi around the city so students could access assignments. Others reached out to nonprofits to help purchase additional laptops for students. 

State leaders asked businesses to donate hotspots and laptops to help students.

As schools tentatively prepare to reopen in the fall, Taylor said they will depend heavily on money from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act to fill in some of the educational gaps.

The CARES Act will allocate approximately $13.2 billion in emergency relief funds to state governments to support K-12 students whose educations have been disrupted by the coronavirus. 

“CARES Act funding ishugely important to mitigate some of the challenge we faced,” Taylor said. “We want to be able to provide for the needs of families and students.”Get the Law & Order newsletter in your inbox.

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Different ages, neighborhoods, ethnicity

The online Morrison-Republic poll was conducted from April 24 through May 7. It included 813 Arizona residents census balanced by age, gender, ethnicity, and location.

Of those, 287 were parents with at least one child living at home. The margin of error was plus or minus 6 percentage points with a 95% confidence level.

At the time of the survey, 16% of respondents indicated they would feel comfortable sending their kids back to school immediately following the lifting of restrictions.

Among the general population of parents polled:

  • 75% said their children had the necessary technology to engage in online learning.
  • 67% said their children were actively engaged in learning.
  • 57% were satisfied with the educational opportunities being offered.
  • 53% were worried that children would fall behind.
  • 43% were concerned that COVID-19 would impact their child’s ability to graduate.

Parents of older students expressed less confidence that their children were staying engaged in online learning than those of younger students.

Of the parents with at least one child in elementary school, 69% said they agreed that their children were engaged, compared to 55% of parents polled with a child in high school.

The opposite was true when parents were asked whether they were worried their child might fall behind in school.

Among parents with children in elementary school, 58%worried that their child would fall behind, compared to 46% of parents polled with a child in high school.

Black parents polled were more concerned about their children falling behind than white or Hispanic parents. Of those polled, 67% of black parents said they were worried, compared to 44% of white parents and 63% of Hispanic parents. 

Hispanic parents were the most concerned about whether COVID-19 would decrease their child’s likelihood of graduating high school. Of those polled, 49% of Hispanic parents said they were concerned, compared to 38% of black parents and 28% of white parents.

Parents who did not have a high school degree reported less concern about students falling behind as a result of the stay-at-home order when compared to parents with some college or a higher degree.

A parent’s neighborhood also impacted how individuals polled responded.

While 61% of parents who lived in an urban neighborhood indicated they were satisfied with the educational opportunities being offered by their school, only 47% of parents in suburban neighborhoods were satisfied.

Can kids attend camp this summer? What newly released guidelines say

five children playing water during day time

Detailed guidelines issued by the American Camp Association and the YMCA recommend extensive cleaning protocols and safety measures to protect kids during the pandemic.

May 18, 2020, 8:15 AM CDT / Source: TODAYBy Scott Stump

Summer camp is going to look a lot different this year as parents weigh whether to send their children during the coronavirus pandemic.

Thousands of camps are making numerous changes emphasizing health and safety, which could mean wearing masks when appropriate and daily cleaning of sports gear and aquatic equipment.

Tom Rosenberg, the president and CEO of the American Camp Association, and Paul McEntire, the COO of YMCA of the USA (Y-USA), spoke to Savannah Guthrie exclusively on TODAY about the joint release of detailed guidelines by their organizations on Monday outlining best policies that camps can use to keep children safe during the pandemic.

The thought of a group of 6- or 7-year-olds excitedly gathering at camp and practicing social distancing or rigid hygiene may not be easy to envision, but the guide provides a host of details about everything from pool safety to cleaning life jackets to prevent the spread of the virus.

“Parents can definitely expect to see safety as the first and foremost focus at camp this summer,” Rosenberg said. “For camp directors, the health and safety of our campers is paramount.”

About 20 million children, adolescents and adults enjoy roughly 14,000 camps across the country every year between day camps and overnight camps. The YMCA runs about 10,000 day camps on its own, as well as 325 overnight camps.

A majority of the YMCA day camps are planning to open this summer as long as they are in compliance with state and local guidance, while some overnight camps have decided not to open this summer, according to McEntire.

Some camps may have shortened sessions and others may be conducting the camp virtually, according to Rosenberg.

“There are going to be lots of different choices, but not necessarily looking typical this summer,” Rosenberg said.

A host of changes are recommended by the guide, including regular sanitizing, hand-washing, social distancing, staggered meals, smaller group activities and staggered arrivals and pick-ups.

The guide put together by a panel of experts is basically a detailed expansion on the guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regarding summer camps during the pandemic.

The recommendations also include routine cleaning of all outdoor equipment after each use and providing campers with their own equipment like tennis rackets or bows and arrows for the duration of camp if possible.

When it comes to pool safety, the guidelines state that there is no current evidence that coronavirus can be spread in a pool or water play area, so properly disinfecting with chlorine or bromine “will likely inactivate the virus in the water.”

people playing water during daytime

Other guidelines include physical distancing while swimming, keeping activities confined to the same group of campers and same instructors and regularly cleaning and disinfecting shared equipment like oars and life jackets.

Some camps may also plan to screen campers ahead of time with two weeks of temperature checks while also determining if they have been in contact with someone who tested positive. Campers also could be screened if they have traveled to a hotspot like New York City, which has been the center of a rare and potentially deadly condition linked to COVID-19 in children.

Whether campers are given COVID-19 tests is up to the local and state governments and the resources available, according to the experts. Overnight camps are urged to have places to isolate any campers who could have been exposed to COVID-19, while day camps are recommended to have parents come pick the child up immediately.

There also are many parents who may not have much of a choice when it comes to sending their child to camp this summer.

“A lot of parents have choices whether to send their child to camp or not, but many others don’t,” McEntire said. “They utilize overnight camp and even more day camp as child care because they have to go to work, and so we feel responsibility to design that so that they can be as safe as possible, so children when they’re with us have fun, be outdoors and allow that parent to go to work.

Experts offer advice to help parents ‘manage the meltdowns’ during time at home with kids

by Ashley Gooden | Monday, May 18th 2020

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBMA) — Since school has been out, many children have started to grow anxious and irritable with having to stay at home so much. ABC 33/40 is getting help from experts to help manage the meltdowns.

Kiara Harris is the parent of a 5 year-old, and as you can imagine, her son, Noah, is getting a little antsy staying at home.

“We’re accustomed to going to jump parks or to indoor playgrounds and he doesn’t quite understand why he can’t go outside and play on the playground and he’s made a few comments like he misses school or he wants to have fun this weekend. So, it’s been really odd for both of us because he can’t get out the energy he’s accustomed to getting out,” says Harris.

Things are a little odd for most parents right now… Many kids are more irritable, and it’s not their fault.

“I feel bad that there isn’t that much we can do,” says Harris.

Doctors say there are a couple of things parents can do while at home like noticing if the irritability is coming from them or the child, and also realizing changes in behavior that are out of the ordinary.

“For most children what you’re going to be noticing is a normal reaction to the circumstances, basic support, finding ways to help them cope, creating activities, help them find ways to creatively stay in touch with their friends,” says Dr. Dan Marullo, a psychologist at Children’s of Alabama.

Marullo says tummy aches, headaches, and other aches and pains can be a sign of emotional distress.

Dr. Amin Gilani, a psychiatrist associated with Brookwood Baptist Medical Center says now more than ever your children are watching you to see how they should behave.

“There will be long term consequences of the isolation, social distancing, the whole pandemic thing, and parents are consuming all the news from all of the sources and the amount of stress and amount of reaction parents are going through will determine how badly their kids will be effected,” says Gilani.

Gilani also recommends paying attention to how much your child is online, he says there should be a maximum of 4 hours spent in front of a screen.

He mentions there could be much difficulty for children, when it comes to heading back to school.

“So it’s going to be an extreme level of emotion. Some kids will be too happy and some will be too scared and that is not a good sign. I would be very careful and talk to your kids, be like hey I know we had a long break, we didn’t go outside, but in the august, you may have to go back to school,” says Gilani.

If you’d like an additional resource to help walk you through how to cope with difficulties you may be facing at home with your children, you can call Children’s of Alabama’s free confidential phone response center that links adult callers to mental health resources for children and teens.

That number is 205-638-PIRC (7472).

When Will This Be Over? Sesame Workshop’s Tips For Parenting During A Pandemic

May 12, 202012:03 AM ET

By Cory Turner and Anya Kamenetz

Sesame Workshop's Rosemarie Truglio shares advice with parents for getting through the coronavirus crisis.

Parents, let’s be honest: Many of us are struggling right now.

Some have lost loved ones to COVID-19; many of us have lost jobs. And nearly all of us have spent the past two months juggling new parenting responsibilities as our children stay home and schools shift online.

In March, NPR’s Life Kit team put together this guide to help parents navigate the tumultuous early days of the pandemic. But in the intervening weeks, the challenges have changed. So we checked in with Rosemarie Truglio, a developmental psychologist and senior vice president of curriculum and content at Sesame Workshop, to gather wisdom you can use during this current phase.

When is this gonna be over?

At the beginning of the pandemic, kids’ questions were often easy enough to explain with a little science. What is COVID-19? Easy. How can we keep from getting it? There are no guarantees, but hand-washing works wonders!

Now, however, the top question in the minds of many kids — and adults — is, when will the coronavirus crisis end? And that one is mysterious and unexplainable. Still, it requires an honest answer, says Truglio, one that’s hard for some parents to say: “I don’t know.”

But don’t stop there. Shift the conversation by asking, “What do we have control over now?” And then plan an activity that’s fun, that your kids can look forward to and that you can control, pandemic be darned.

One example: Go camping — in a nearby state park, in your backyard or even in your living room. Pitch a tent, roast marshmallows (on the stovetop if you have to) and gaze up at the stars — even if you have to cut them out and tape them to the ceiling.

What matters in this confusing, indefinite time, Truglio says, is that kids feel some sense of control and have something happy they can mark on the calendar. There have been so many great examples of families getting creative to mark milestones and special occasions — drive-by birthday paradesgraduation yard signs, even a DIY trip to Disney World.

Forgive yourself

We all need to forgive our kids when they cross a line now and then. But you also need to forgive yourself if you don’t always handle their misbehavior with the optimal amount of patience and grace. Most of us are not at our best right now, and that’s OK.

“We’re human beings, and we’re going to lose it. All of us, even myself,” Truglio says. For her, it was when she was working from home and her Wi-Fi went out. Her son tried to console her by giving her a hug, but what she really needed was some space.

To make sure we lose it less often, Truglio says, try to take a breather whenever you start to feel overwhelmed by a situation — just put a door between yourself and your child for a minute or two and practice some deep breathing. Also, be sure to recharge your batteries by scheduling a little me-time here and there; maybe it’s watching your favorite show once the kids are in bed or taking a hot bath while another grown-up in the house looks after the kids.

If you’ve never tried meditation — or you’ve not made time for it lately — we can’t recommend it enough. Even 10 minutes of quiet can do wonders for your pandemic-thinned patience.

But if you do lose it with your kids, Truglio says, the important part is that you model the process of making amends. Truglio went back to her son, apologized and got that hug after all.

Build kids’ resilience and self-sufficiency

Many of us feel torn and guilty as we try to balance our kids’ needs with our bosses’ demands. A lot of the time it feels like the only way out is to hand our young ones a screen. But Truglio says this is an opportunity to parent differently, in a way that equips our children with essential life skills.

“This is not a time for kids to think that they can have their parents’ 100% attention,” says Truglio. “It’s so important for children to build what we call resiliency skills. And part of resiliency skills is to have them cope with disappointment and frustration.”

It’s OK to say, “I just can’t be with you right now, and I trust you to figure this out.”

“Let kids have the space to be creative problem-solvers. Because when you remove yourself and have them be much more self-sufficient, they are developing these important critical thinking skills. You’re empowering them to be problem-solvers.”

These days, Truglio says, many kids are so reliant on the adults in their lives that “they’re afraid to make a mistake because they think that mistakes are bad. And we need to flip the script on that as well and say, ‘That’s how you learn!’ “

Schoolwork isn’t the only way to learn at home

We’ve heard from many parents concerned that their children aren’t learning enough in this time of emergency remote instruction. Teachers and school budgets are spread thin, and often, even the kids who are fortunate enough to have computers and access to Wi-Fi aren’t getting more than an hour or two of instruction each day.

To that, we say, focus on the things you can control. Truglio has some good news here: Our homes are already full of potential learning experiences.

Cooking together, for example: “You have a literacy component because we’re reading the recipes. We’re reading ingredients. It’s a math moment as we’re measuring. It’s a science moment as different substances are changing because of the properties of matter.”

Board games — which we’ve explored before as a rich way to teach math — can also build kids’ ever important social-emotional skills, helping them grapple with concepts of fairness, chance, strategy and practice.

Different families, different rules

As lockdowns soften and rules change around the U.S., families might disagree about some things — like whether to get takeout or when to wear a mask.

This can be confusing for children. If your child sees other kids playing together in the park, for example, she may think you’re being unfair — or even mean — for not letting her do the same.

When you explain, Truglio says, “it’s about putting a positive spin on this: ‘These rules are put in place by our family because we need to make sure that we’re staying healthy.’ “

The more your child hears that these rules are about helping — that they are empowered to be helpers — the easier it will be for them to understand and ultimately embrace them. Truglio suggests something like, “‘We need everyone in the family to do their part. And so this is why you’re playing such an important role!’ “

Doctor, patient, parent: Chapel Hill man sees the many sides of COVID-19

Posted May 13, 2020 11:44 a.m. EDT
Updated May 13, 2020 5:59 p.m. EDT

By Richard Adkin, WRAL photojournalist

Samuel McLean, MD, MPH
Vice Chair of Research Associate Professor of Anesthesiology and Emergency Medicine

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — There are few people who have seen COVID-19 from as many angles as Dr. Samuel McLean, a Chapel Hill emergency department physician. He’s seen the virus as a doctor, he’s seen it as a patient, and he’s seen it as the parent of a sick child.

“It was really my worst nightmare, getting COVID myself,” he said of the experience. “It never really hits you like it has during this COVID pandemic, the fact that when you’re going to work you’re risking not only your life, but the lives of people around you, and that for sure is the hardest part.”

McLean started feeling ill back in March. He had treated people with what he suspected were coronavirus symptoms, and having seen the news coverage from overseas, he knew the pandemic was inevitable. He called it “like a slow train in terms of the COVID epidemic coming to our community.”

McLean says his symptoms started with a cough and a headache. The symptoms were mild. He didn’t have a fever and the symptoms went away after a few days. Then a week later, they came back much worse.

Soon his family was sick. Even the dog tested positive for coronavirus.

McLean knows the risks of being an emergency medical worker. He says that risk is usually small. But this virus, he says, is something to fear.

“The fear that you might get sick yourself but also the fear that people who mean the most to you in the world could even die because of your work. That is truly a very scary feeling,” he said.

With fear comes courage, courage bolstered by community support. McLean sees that support and believes it hits the mark with his fellow healthcare coworkers.

“Well I think it means a lot to all of us,” McLean said, “I think that we are all extremely grateful, and I think that just as humans that any of us, when we are making a sacrifice, making a commitment, to have that sacrifice recognized, is just very meaningful.”

For Young Adults, Quarantining With Parents Turns Back Time

With grown children back under their parents’ roof in the pandemic, there are issues of independence, privacy and housekeeping to navigate.

Jeremy Kauffman, 21, left, and Eli Kauffman, 23, right, moved back in with their sister Ruby Kauffman, 17, and parents Erick Kauffman and Lucene Wisniewski in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, at the start of the coronavirus shutdown.
Jeremy Kauffman, 21, left, and Eli Kauffman, 23, right, moved back in with their sister Ruby Kauffman, 17, and parents Erick Kauffman and Lucene Wisniewski in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, at the start of the coronavirus shutdown.Credit…via Lucene Wisniewski

By Julie Halpert | May 12, 2020

Jeremy Kauffman, 21, was enjoying his junior year at Kenyon College when he had to move back home two months ago. It’s the longest he’s lived under his parent’s roof in two years, but it’s not the 4,000-square-foot house he grew up in. His parents, thinking they were about to be empty nesters, had just downsized to a nearby place half the size, in Cleveland Heights, Ohio. They’ve been there with their three kids finishing up the school year online from “any free spaces available,” said his mother, Lucene Wisniewski.

Initially, “my parents moved back into high school parenting mode,” Mr. Kauffman said, routinely checking in on him. “I was like, ‘Come on, Mom. I can do my homework and my chores. I can do everything I need to do.’” Lack of privacy is also an issue. “You can hear anything from anywhere in that house. It’s a little uncomfortable when you’re on a personal phone call.”

Many parents whose adult children had left to start their own independent lives are navigating a complex and unexpected living situation, as Covid-19 has forced them to quarantine together. It’s a situation that can be ripe for conflict.

Steve Simms, a licensed marriage and family therapist and director of the Philadelphia Child and Family Therapy Training Center, says that what’s unique isn’t just that young adults are home, “but that they’re home and they can’t really go anywhere. Everyone is stuck in the same house together for a prolonged period of time.”

To pave the way for harmonious relationships, he said it’s important for parents to acknowledge the distress their children are undoubtedly feeling from the hardship of being ripped away from the lives they were living to a new life. Being attuned to that process and expressing sympathy and empathy can go a long way toward heading off disputes, he said.

Carl Pickhardt, a psychologist and author of the Psychology Today blog, “Surviving Your Child’s Adolescence,” said that for young adults, returning home can feel regressive as they move from living independently to living dependently. “The closer the quarters, the more little differences can be abrasive.” He recommended setting ground rules for living together and bridging lifestyle differences. This includes devising a contract for managing household responsibilities, like how a family will share the same bathroom, washer and dryer and refrigerator.

Instead of complaining that the grown child is being “messy” and “irresponsible,” which can be inflammatory, he said parents are better served by discussing how and when the kitchen is used and making clear that dirty dishes must be washed and put away after meals.

“Generalities can escalate conflict. Specifics can calm it down,” he said. Requests should be phrased politely, instead of as an edict: “We know you both like staying up later than we do. We would like to ask that you keep the volume on the TV down so we can sleep.”

Rosalind Wiseman, co-founder of Cultures of Dignity, which works with parents, educators and young people to successfully navigate the challenges of young adulthood, said it’s important for parents not to return to old patterns of patronizing their adult children and instead treat them more as equals. Clinging to the concept that “‘It’s my house and you’ll do what I say,’ that dominating paradigm doesn’t work,” she said. During a time when families are cooped up together with nowhere to go, she suggests regular family meetings that any family member can initiate if they’re experiencing a problem. These can be a check-in where everyone takes one minute to describe how they’re feeling, describing one thing they would like to see changed and how all they can contribute to that change.

The dynamic shifts when a grown child’s partner joins the family quarantine. Dr. David Chodirker and Shira Deener already had their three children, ages 17, 15 and 13, living with them at their Newton, Mass., home when their 25-year-old daughter and her boyfriend came from Brooklyn for what they thought would be a weekend visit in mid-March. They never left. “We’ve been getting to know a boyfriend we didn’t know that well,” said Ms. Deener, who works as a director for an international education nonprofit. Dr. Chodirker, a family physician, said he’s been a trooper, allowing their 17-year-old son to cut his hair and finding weights through Facebook Marketplace and setting up a home gym for the family, “which to me is a signal that they aren’t leaving any time soon,” Dr. Chodirker said. But he joked that there’s an upside: Should the two get married, there will be plenty of material for wedding toasts.

When the complexities of this new normal become particularly daunting, it can be helpful to focus on ways to help others. Stephanie Coontz, director of research and public education for the Council on Contemporary Families and author of “The Way We Never Were: American Families and the Nostalgia Trap,”said research shows that helping others can lead to an increased sense of happiness and self-worth. “So instead of trying to find ways to amuse ourselves as a family, think of ways that the family can contribute to the tremendous needs of people elsewhere who are hungry, hurting or overworked as health care providers or essential workers,” she said.

Molly Holcomb and her 19-year-old son, Teddy, have spent Tuesday nights preparing 25 bag lunches that are distributed to the homeless and others in need by Chicago Help Initiative. Teddy was finishing his sophomore year at Emerson College in Boston when he moved back home to his mother’s 1,300-square-foot downtown Chicago apartment. Working together on a charitable project has helped to temper some of the simmering tensions they face over Teddy’s nocturnal schedule and their differing standards of cleanliness.

Molly and Teddy Holcomb making lunches for the homeless in their Chicago apartment.
Molly and Teddy Holcomb making lunches for the homeless in their Chicago apartment.Credit…Teddy Holcomb

“The dog can’t even get into his room because there’s so much stuff,” Ms. Holcomb said. But Teddy said he was unfazed by these squabbles. “There are bigger things to be concerned about,” he said; he has friends at school who have troubled relationships with their parents or are financially struggling and don’t have a place to go. “I feel lucky I can come back.”

Other families are seeing silver linings, too. “Every single night we sit together at dinner and it’s really kind of amazing,” Ms. Deener said.

Jeremy Kauffman said that he had enjoyed becoming closer with his two siblings over the past several months. Before Covid-19 brought them all together, he recalled saying to his mother that he wished there could be a time when they could all live in the same house again. “I guess to a certain extent, my wish came true, just not in the most ideal circumstances.”

New Reports on Virus in Kids Fuel Uncertainty on Schools

By Jason Gale and Thomas Mulier | April 30, 2020, 6:30 AM CDT Updated on 

Children with the new coronavirus may be as infectious as adults, according to a study from Germany that stoked confusion over kids’ role in the pandemic.

Levels of virus in the respiratory tract — the main route via which the pathogen is transmitted — don’t appear significantly different across age groups, Christian Drosten, director of the Institute of Virology at Berlin’s Charite hospital, and colleagues found. They advised caution in reopening schools and kindergartens.

The findings add to a contradictory body of work over children’s response to Covid-19 and the role they play in its spread, with another report showing kids aren’t passing the virus to adults. The World Health Organization said Wednesday more research was needed on the topic.

“All we really know at this point is that with a small number of exceptions, children are mildly affected by this infection,” said Adam Finn, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Bristol and chairman of the WHO’s European Technical Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization. “What is much less clear is how often they get infection and how infectious they are to each other and to other people in their families.”

Children Don’t Pass Covid-19 to Adults, Report Indicates

For now, household transmission studies indicate that children are less likely to transmit Covid-19 to adults than the reverse, WHO epidemiologist Maria Van Kerkhove told reporters in Geneva Wednesday.

Such observations may be “misunderstood as an indication of children being less infectious,” Drosten and colleagues said. They cautioned “against an unlimited reopening of schools and kindergartens in the present situation.”

Less Coughing

The most detailed pediatric data on Covid-19 from China showed 13% of confirmed cases had no symptoms, and when confirmed and suspected cases were combined, almost a third of children ages 6 to 10 years were asymptomatic.

It’s possible that because children typically get milder cases of Covid-19, they are less likely to spread the virus via coughing and sneezing, said Mike Ryan, head of the WHO’s health emergencies program.

While scientists have speculated about why few children get severely ill from Covid-19, no studies have explained the exact mechanism of this protective effect.

Have a story, experience, or recipe you want to share with our readers? Feel free to email me at throughlovewelearn@gmail.com

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