Back to school

Christina Greer, Ph.D. | 9/3/2020, midnight
There are so many parents who are exhausted. Students across the country have been home since March and many parents ...
Dr. Christina Greer

There are so many parents who are exhausted. Students across the country have been home since March and many parents are at their wits’ end. They have been working in or outside of the home, doubling as teachers and tutors to their children, all while trying to manage being in the midst of a global pandemic. So many parents are still trying to manage the educational needs of their children with special educational needs while juggling everything else in their lives. Sadly, there has been an overall lack of clarity from leaders on the local, state, and federal levels.

First things first, to all of the parents reading this who have felt overwhelmed and guilty and just an overall sense that you are failing your children—you are not. This experience of hardship and uncertainty will hopefully build a foundation within our young people that uncertainty in life is real and resilience is a necessary skill and trait to have in all facets of life.

Second, I have heard so many parents discuss their children having too much screen time just so the adults in the house can work or prepare to go to work. Children will not remember the screen time, they will remember the laughter they had with their parents during this time. Pizza for breakfast, sandwiches for dinner, random snacks throughout the day, laying around in pajamas all day, and sporadic baths doesn’t make someone a bad parent, actually, in the mind of a child that makes them the world’s greatest parent. What child doesn’t want to live this life?

Essentially, we don’t really know whether our children are going back to school in a few weeks. And if they do, we also don’t know if they’ll be back home by the end of September due to the persistence and evolution of the coronavirus. The uncertainty has been overwhelming for so many families trying to do their best and just survive this tumultuous moment in our country. What we must remember is that we are part of a collective society and we must articulate our needs so we can accept help from others.

Many believe there are few things more important than education and in many ways this may be true. However, in this moment, we may need to expand our definition of what education really is. We may need to see our behavior, actions, and activities as a crucial form of education for children in this moment. They are looking at us and to us for guidance.

As students prepare to go back to school, for however long that may be, flexibility, patience, and resilience must be our mantra. We have communities we need to reach out to. We may need to get creative about our resources, but we must remember that we do indeed have the skills to survive this school year.

Christina Greer, Ph.D., is an associate professor at Fordham University, the author of “Black Ethnics: Race, Immigration, and the Pursuit of the American Dream,” and the co-host of the podcast FAQ-NYC.