I never imagined that one day, my home would become a makeshift schoolhouse. Yet here we are, mid-pandemic, and so many of the things we once considered normal have become chalk dust in the wind. Vases of florals have been swapped for color caddies of freshly sharpened pencils and Crayola markers. My shelf of design books has been replaced by coordinated, labeled bins of school supplies. Where company once came to lounge and laugh during post-playdate cocktail hour, designated work areas and desks now take center stage. Creating an engaging learning space for our kids to be productive at home has been a challenge that this notes-in-the-lunchbox mom never saw coming. (Who am I kidding? My kids have actually packed their own lunches for years, but hey – a girl can dream.)
One thing is for sure — back-to-school is very different than any other we’ve experienced before. The cafeteria chatter, the slamming of side-by-side lockers while rushing to class, and the recess run-around that were all part of the buzzy school routine is on pause. With this newfound isolation added into the mix of their daily lives, I’ve begun thinking about how to keep our kids mindful that there is still a whole world out there, even though they may not be able to experience it in the same way right now.
As we navigate these trying times, our children must be aware of the gift that always lifts: helping others.
Teaching our kids to recognize when those around them need a boost is a lesson that will stick with them long after this period of time passes.
Through guidance and example, children of all ages learn that by helping others, they help themselves. Not to mention the boost it will have to their self-confidence and sense of purpose.
Scroll on for ideas on how we can work with our children to inspire them to spread joy in their virtual schools and throughout their communities.
Get Your Kids Involved
Sit down with your child and discuss the problems other children across your community (and around the world) are facing in the midst of Covid. What do they think they can do to make things better for those in need? Listen carefully to their ideas because, like you, their world has been turned upside-down.
Send a Note
What better way for your children to show their respect and appreciation for their teachers, staff, librarian, and fellow classmates than a hand-written letter? Sending notes via snail mail supports the postal service, helps kids practice their writing skills, and gives them a chance to flex their creative muscles.
Organize a Virtual Pep Rally
Grab your signs and your smiles and work with your children to set up a virtual pep rally during a class Zoom session. (Just make sure you receive your teacher’s blessing first.)
Reach out to organizations like Big Brothers Big Sisters or your local food bank to see how you can help them in person — with a mask on! Learning what strides can be made to lend support will give your child a sense of purpose and responsibility for others.
Know a full-time working parent whose kids are at home and attending classes remotely? Team up with your kiddos to pick up groceries and drop them off on their porch. It’s like delivering a personal Instacart without the steep price tag.
Donate School Supplies
Over 90% of American children begin the school year with no supplies (including basic pens and notebooks) that they need to thrive in school. A great way to give back is to donate school supplies. Better yet, take that generosity to the next level and create your own back-to-school supply drive. Gather your friends and their children and follow the process suggested in this guide.
Spread Holiday Cheer (a few months early)
The holidays will be here before we know it, so consider a neighborhood toy drive to collect and donate toys. Engage your children in this activity by having them help you decide what toys they think another child might enjoy.
If your own time is limited, you can still sit down with your child and discuss what can be done to help others. Do they receive an allowance? Perhaps they can forgo a special treat or toy and instead donate the cost of that item to a nonprofit such as Friends of the Children.
Know a parent, student, or teacher feeling the weight of these trying times? You and your child can find a thoughtful gift (or even a simple card) and drop it to them — without a tag.
If your child is in middle or high school and knows a friend struggling with remote learning or is having a hard time keeping up with virtual assignments, he or she could offer to lend assistance either via FaceTime or outside with safe social distance.
Donate Clothes for Working Parents
School children and parents aren’t the only ones who could use a little boost right now. Donate your gently used blazers and other business-attire garments at your local Dress for Success chapter and help a hard-working woman thrive in work and in life.