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Parents' stress rises as they have to teach kids; An expert weighs in

Last Updated Apr 10, 2020 at 11:50 am MDT

Mother working from home with daughter in quarantine (CREDIT: iStock Photo)

CALGARY (660 NEWS) – Many parents and guardians are excited for a long weekend as they try to cope with the pressures of having to teach their kids from home.

One hour of schoolwork easily becomes two or three, as caregivers have to learn the material, figure out how to teach it, and in some cases, they also work their day job from home.

“I think we should take the pressure off parents to feel like everything has to be perfect, everything has to be structured,” says Kelly Schwartz, a Psychologist and Associate Professor in the School and Applied Child Psychology program at The University of Calgary.

“The most important thing is saying to parents are your kids getting the opportunity to learn something every day?” He added. “In fact, the teachers I’ve talked to are not as concerned about kids and students keeping up with the curriculum, but are they having opportunities to learn every day?”

Instead of trying to micromanage every second of your child’s day and create an extremely detailed schedule, Schwartz suggests just remembering to set up enough time for learning, physical activity, and relationship building each day.

“This is a great time for kids to take opportunities to serve others,” Schwartz pointed out.

“Take time to zoom with grandma or take time to write letters or draw pictures for front line medical staff or first responders, send a $10 Amazon card to the kid’s teachers. Get (your kids) to think outside of what’s going on in their own home and think about what’s going on in other people’s lives.” He says it’s very healthy for children to start thinking about those sorts of things.

While usually, parents should manage their kids’ screen time, Schwartz says it’s important to recognize many children are using their devices to stay connected to friends, finish their homework, and entertain themselves.

“Kids that are using their social media to maintain relationships, to keep up with one another, to stay in touch with each other — both friends and family — obviously that’s a good thing,” He added.

“Even gaming, which has taken a beating over the last five or ten years in regard to ‘too much gaming,’ but we know gaming can also be an opportunity for kids to keep and maintain relationships.”

Schwartz recommends everyone, parents included, need to have some non-screen time.

He wondered out loud whether everybody would start to relish the time they spend face-to-face with people post-COVID-19, and if people will start to detox from their screens once public health measures are reduced or removed.

When it comes to trying to cope with having to stay indoors for extended periods of time, Schwartz shared a positive outlook.

“I mean when else is this going to happen in a family’s history that you have this concentrated time, that does create its own stress, like too much time, can be too much,” he remarked.

“But at the same time, we have got an opportunity here to spend time with our kids and to learn along in this experience that we likely will never have in our lives. So, let’s take advantage of that and see that as a positive.”