Parents are naturally tolerant and protective of their own children. To say it mildly, we are irrationally biased toward our offspring. I often find that parents are lost when guiding their children in a typical playground conflict. Negativity bias influences how children process healthy conflicts, and parents are particularly vulnerable to their own child’s struggles. How many times have I listened to an irate parent convinced another student is “bullying” their child when in reality the two children are best friends? Parents’ anger comes from a love for their children, but bias can cloud our judgment and make us ineffective. Teachers are experts at using personality dynamics as opportunities for social-emotional learning. They know how to teach important conflict resolution skills on the fly. Parents will need to skill up and check their bias if they are going to create an emotionally safe environment conducive to learning.
Safety (not just from COVID-19)
Childcare centers and schools go to great lengths to create a safe environment. Are people doing safety risk assessments in their homes? What’s safe to do in your backyard when your Dad is watching is not necessarily safe for your friend because they may not have the same skill set. Is the backyard playscape age-appropriate for all the children in the pod? Setting limits on playing safely with other people’s children will take some practice, and preparing the home to prevent accidents is a good idea. What about first aid and CPR certification? Is there an emergency action plan?
A school is a community of families with some level of shared values. Whether you choose traditional or alternative, the school your child will attend says a great deal about your values. Pods that have a connection to a larger community network, like a school, maybe more successful because they will have an educational philosophy to help them create agreed-upon parameters. A shared vision will carry communities through conflict and struggle. Families will need a philosophical backbone to lean on when the going gets tough.
City and State Regulations
It may surprise some families to know every state and city already has a set of guidelines and minimum standards for in-home childcare. The State of Texas has three categories—Licensed Child-Care Home, Registered Child-Care Home, and Listed Family Home—each with specific minimum standards, reporting expectations, and possible inspections. Most of these regulations are lowest-common-denominator type requirements meant to protect children from the worst of the worst scenarios, but it may be worth noting that some pandemic pods may already fall into the state’s categories and need to follow specific guidelines. If the pandemic continues on for a protracted period of time—very likely—and schools remain closed or remote, more people will turn to these smaller learning models, and state regulators may play a bigger role than ever before, for better or for worse. Parents are being asked to do so much with so little knowledge of child development theory. I feel compelled to help them. At my little Montessori school, we have decided it’s just not safe to bring teachers and children back to campus until the virus is under control. Who knows how long that will be? In the meantime, we are offering the parents as much support as we can. If you are interested in getting support for yourself, your child, or your learning pod, we are here to help.