The Coronovirus-19 pandemic is not something any of us wished or planned for, and its potential to disrupt our lives is already felt. As a community, we are pulling together to make the most of this time. Even so, things at home look, feel, and run a little differently. We’ve put together a few helpful tips for you to implement at home. Reply to this email and let us know which ones you are implementing and how they’ve worked for you. If you have pictures, share them with us on social with #GACfamilychallenge.
We’ve got this, Spartans!
- Maintain some of your previous routines. Routines give children a sense of security and stability. Routines make all of us feel safe, in fact. Routines help to establish and uphold expectations, too. For example, the familiar routine of getting up at the same time, eating breakfast, and putting on Spartan spiritwear before they log in to the classroom provides some sense of normalcy for our students. Our teachers are still teaching, and the same peers are in their virtual classroom, so that familiarity each day is meaningful to them. There are other routines like school lunch which can still be meaningful. We encourage students to schedule Zoom sessions with their peers to enjoy lunch or breaks together and maintain a sense of community.
- Establish some new routines. Now is a good time to capitalize on a change of pace and add in new routines that before were impossible. For example, family lunches and dinners might have been difficult in the past but could be a welcome mid-day check-in time for the next few weeks. A simple walk around the neighborhood after dinner could be the re-set button that you all need. You don’t need to research new and creative routines online; they don’t have to be elaborate or unique. Sharing simple activities at predictable times in the day is all that is suggested.
- Focus on the positive of this situation. We will have more time with our families in the next two weeks. Let’s strive to make the most of this time, enjoying it while knowing that things won’t always be this way. We recognize that this is a stressful time for many adults, too. As leaders, let’s set the stage for our homes. While we know that things will return back to normal soon, our kids may not know that. They will remember what your home felt like during this time more than anything.
- Lean in to our new (although temporary) reality. When life becomes challenging, sometimes our inclination is to throw our hands up in despair. Instead, decide as a family to roll up your sleeves and tackle this time together. It can and will be a challenge, but challenges can be fun, right? Identify and solve problems together as a family. Set rules and boundaries that you may not have had to before. Communicate well and often with each other.
- Find ways to help others. As difficult as things may be for you and your family, there is always someone who needs help more than you do. Make the most of this opportunity to shift your perspective. Check on an elderly relative or neighbor. Put a kind note in someone’s mailbox. Donate food or other items that your community needs. One outcome of this situation has been the outpouring of love, concern, and togetherness on display around metropolitan Atlanta. We’re all in this together. We have each other’s backs.
- Create a rhythm of life that works for your family. Make a schedule that works for your family. Each family schedule will look different depending on family size, individual needs, working parents’ schedules, grandparents living in the home, etc. Have your kids make lists and set goals. Let kids participate in the decision-making. Much of their time over the next few weeks will be non-negotiable, so let them make decisions when you can.
- Build in to the schedule: recess and chores and unstructured downtime. Kids will need downtime. Adults in the home will need downtime. Take care of yourselves. Signal to your children that this is a time to unite but also to divide and conquer. Give your kids towels to fold, dishes to wash, floors to sweep. Let them head outside into the backyard and explore. Let them get out the art supplies and create a piece of artwork or project. It’s okay if they are bored from time-to-time. It’s often in those spaces that kids harness and express some of their greatest levels of creativity.
- Display the schedule. Pro tip from our teachers: display the schedule in your home! If you have some new rules and boundaries, write them down and put them on your refrigerator. Visual reminders are helpful and decrease arguments. These schedules can also help children remember when working parents cannot be interrupted.
- Let some things go. Try not to worry as much about dishes in the sink, dog hair on the couch, or how much screen time your kids are spending right now. Some days are likely to be better than others, and that’s okay. We can’t do everything we were doing before (which was a lot!) and pile on more responsibilities too. Something has to give from time-to-time. It’s a unique time, so our expectations of ourselves have to bend also.
- Practice patience and grace. Especially for yourself. This situation is new to all of us. None of us has walked this road. We are all learning along the way. There are going to be times that don’t go as well as expected or planned. We can learn from it, adjust our sails, and keep going. There’s no one “right way” to cope. We’re all winging it! Change is hard at first, but it will become easier as the days go on.
Remember…GAC is here for you. All of the teachers, administrators, leaders, and staff that were available to you before online learning began are still here. In fact, we are more present than ever. We have prepared for this, we’ve banded together with parents and students as a team, and we will work with each student to get it right. The Spartan community is determined and committed. We’ve got this!