Parenting

  • Quarantine Edition: Communicating with your Child’s Teacher

    Are you having trouble communicating with your child’s teacher?

    Many of us around the country are about six weeks into being quarantined at home with our families. Some families have adjusted well and have fallen into a routine of successfully balancing the new norm. However, some parents are still struggling with helping their children complete remote school assignments. In addition to extra housework, parents have found themselves feeling completely ill-equipped to help their children do their school work and it’s simply just not working for any member of the household. Overwhelmed parents have expressed that they are at their wits end with non-communicative teachers and their sea of seemingly endless assignments.

    So, what is the best way to communicate with your child’s teacher?

    I came across a complaint from a parent expressing her frustration with her child’s teacher. I’ve paraphrased to protect the parent, child and school district’s identity but the gist of her grievance is:

    I’m so over my son’s teacher. I emailed her to contact me days ago and I still haven’t received a phone call. In my email, I stated that I found some of the assignments confusing and told her that she needed to be meeting with my son and his class at least twice a week.

    She finally replied via email and told me that she taught the kids how to complete the assignment while in class so she doesn’t know why I’m confused. Obviously, I wasn’t sitting in class when she covered the subject matter. I’m sitting at my computer and I’m so irate with her condescending tone. I really want to give her a piece of my mind!

    I’m able to see both sides here. I’m a parent, educator and founder of Kid Care Concierge, where a big part of my job is to supervise teachers. Here are 4 tips that will lead to better communication with your child’s teacher while under quarantine.


    Ask very specific questions in order to get a direct answer. Instead of expressing that you’re confused, it might be more helpful to reword your reply to say that your child doesn’t understand x concept and you don’t want to further confuse her so you’re requesting the teacher to either send you step-by-step instructions of how to s/he’d like for you to teach her. You could also email the teacher to request a time to speak with him/her to go over the concept so that you can assist your child with the assignment. As tempting as it may be, cursing the teacher out will do nothing except further escalate the situation. Instead, be firm, direct and intentional in your communication with your child’s teacher.

    A little understanding goes a long way. It’s safe to say that the world has a collective newfound appreciation for teachers. Quarantined parents everywhere are wondering how teachers are able to supervise and educate 25 students at one time, day in and day out. Be mindful that your child’s teacher may be teaching your child while trying to manage to keep his/her own children quiet in the background.

    If the teacher has a “fiery” personality or just has a smart mouth, s/he probably didn’t take too well to the parent demanding how often she should meet with children. I agree that meeting with the child more frequently may clear confusion and there is never a reason to be non-communicative within a professional relationship, but the teacher is not going to make that extra effort if a parent is going back and forth with him/her.

    If the school day normally ends at 3:00, don’t expect a reply from the teacher after that time. Realize that other parents are likely confused, frustrated and have contacted the one teacher numerous times. Some teachers are teaching full classes of students, totaling over 100 students per day. Some teachers are without help with childcare or may have lost a friend, family member or student while being quarantined and are unable to properly grieve but continue to be there for your child and others. Teachers are still required to plan and write lesson plans, grade tests, write report cards and attend virtual meetings with their superiors all while caring for their own children, cooking, cleaning and trying to navigate getting essential groceries after they’ve finished teaching each day.

    Here’s where you woosah, grab a glass of wine or mediate before replying to the teacher.


    School districts provide a service to the school community. Teachers are on the front line so they get the pleasure of having to respond to irate parents who are oftentimes frustrated by a system the teacher did not create and cannot control.

    I’m going to share a little secret with you. Everyone except for teachers and parents who were homeschooling prior to novel coronavirus is winging it. Homeschooling is different than virtual learning. Trust me, I’ve written homeschooling curricula and it requires experiences that parents cannot provide while being quarantined. School districts had no intention of teaching virtually on a consistent basis; therefore, they did not prepare for it. Scaling a half year of a full curriculum into a virtual curriculum in less than two weeks while in the midst of a pandemic without some missteps is unrealistic. So what have districts done? The best that they can. Since I’m being completely honest here, let’s take it a step further and realize that although teachers are true heroes, they are human. Some adapt extremely well to change and will go above and beyond to make the transition as painless as possible for families. Others oppose change and shut down when it’s imposed upon them.

    Some districts are telling teachers how often and how to meet with students. Others leave it up to the teacher. Some school districts are requiring students to log in by 9 and work throughout the day, while others are simply requiring students to complete under two hours of work per day. In the example above, I’d email the teacher during school hours to request that s/he virtually meet with the child to clarify questions one additional day per week for extra help. Most teachers normally hold some form of office hours to provide extra help to students, so it’s not unheard of for a parent to make such a request.

    If the teacher is flat out non-responsive, contact the principal/district to gain clarity on how often they expect teachers to meet with students. Make sure that you keep a log of time and dates that you’ve attempted to reach out to the teacher and the nature of their reply. If the teacher is not doing what s/he is supposed to by district standards, then you’ll have an email thread to share with her supervisors showing that you’re a concerned parent who is not getting the help your child needs.

    Educationally speaking, we’re navigating uncharted territory. Clear communication is the only way we’re going to make it through this unprecedented time. We are all stressed out for a variety of reasons. Venting to a teacher and directing them how you want them to virtually teach your child may fall upon deaf ears. When contacting your child’s teacher while under stay at home orders be specific regarding requests and understanding when it comes to limitations, also keep in mind that the parent-teacher relationship is professional in nature and correspondences should be sent and recorded accordingly and be realistic.

    xo, Natasha

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  • Quarantine Edition: Parents Are Not Okay

     

    The effect of being quarantined at home with children has added another layer of stress to many   of our households, and quite frankly, some parents are not okay.  This is a time like no other.  We are all struggling to get through the days.  TGIF has turned into just another day of virtual learning, countless trips to the fridge and our names being called more than ever imaginable.

     

    A mother recently reached out disclosed that she was struggling with managing “EVERYTHING”.  She shared that since being placed under stay at home orders her stress level has gone through the roof, as she has been working full-time from home on her business, while cleaning, cooking, cleaning, figuring out virtual learning with her 5 children, changing diapers, giving baths, coordinating nap times and managing the emotional rollercoaster that comes along with a spouse who has recently been laid off.  

     

    Her plea for help really pulled at my heartstrings.  As a parent, I get it.  I’ve been there to some degree.  When my daughters were young, I stayed home with them.  I also started a small business so that I could continue to stay at home as they got older.  It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.  Years later, I literally get a rush of a tension headache when I think about sitting at my desk in my home office trying to speak to employees on a conference call that I purposely scheduled during nap time, breastfeeding my newborn (ouch), while my two-year-old was running in circles, refusing to take a much-needed nap. Blink and it was dinner time.  It wouldn’t be fair to say that I can reasonably imagine how it would feel to add helping an elementary school-aged child with virtual learning assignments or not being able to have a reprieve at the local park. So, if you are an overwhelmed parent that is not okay while being quarantined, you are not alone and my heart goes out to you too.  

    If I might perhaps provide an alternate perspective, I’ll tell you that the more I speak to parents, the more I realize that our experiences of parenting while quarantined vary greatly dependent upon the ages of our children. I found that parents with children under the age of ten are extremely overwhelmed by the day-to-day effect of having to shelter in place.  While parents of children ten and above are oftentimes as overwhelmed,  our stressors vary slightly.  We also have the privilege of looking through a lens with hindsight vision.  


    So, for parents with multiple children who are trying to balance it all, many seem to really be struggling.  It’s important to lean on other parents who are going through what you’re going through or have gone through what you are experiencing in order to regain your footing.  Call, video conference or group chat with other parents and share your experience.  Some will have it worse.  Some will have it better.  Some will be at their wit’s end on Monday afternoon, others by Wednesday morning. 

     

    Last week, I had a three-hour conversation with another mom.  In the middle of the work-week.  Who does that?  We did because we both desperately needed it.  We needed a safe space to vent and recharge.  I Had dinner late that day.  Yep!  But who cares?  My family needed me to remain sane, so dinner was late.  No one starved and no one got the displaced wrath of this momma bear. I’d call that a win-win.  Wouldn’t you?

    While we all are staying home in order to keep our families, neighbors and front line heroes safe, it is possible to reclaim a sense of normalcy by getting out of the house, even for a moment.  If you’re fortunate enough to have your own yard, take time to enjoy it.  Make time to let the kids get out and play, run and use some of the energy that they would be expending at school during recess.  That’s why schools allow children to go out for recess even on cooler days.  Children have this amazing energy that needs to “get out”.  

    Flashback to my own two-year-old running around my home office.  Remember the varying perspective that I promised to offer?  When I was working from home with my newborn and toddler, I was so focused on trying to balance life as a perfect wife and super mom, that I oftentimes didn’t take advantage of the moment.   And, although at the time I had a graduate degree in psychology, was a certified school teacher, worked in a variety of daycare centers and schools with children of all ages; I was better prepared than most, I neglected to take a real step back.  Theoretically, I knew that I should’ve taken my two-year-old outside to run off the energy which would have led to her sleeping longer and sounder.  

    I’ll be completely honest, having two kids in two years, including a total of three months of stress that came along with doctor required bed rest over the two pregnancies and sleep deprivation like nobody’s business, makes one toss every last one of those child development books out of the window. Clearly, some common sense went out with it.  I’ll just blame it on the mommy-brain.  It’s a real thing, you know? 

    Seriously, get everyone out of the house.  Just let them take in the fresh air.  Don’t have a yard?  That’s fine, don’t leave the doorstep. Open the front door. Change rooms.  Move the kids from the back of the apartment to the front.  Just some way, somehow, shake things up.  If you feel like you’re losing it, imagine how they must feel with the purity of energy only a young child has and not being able to get it out.  

    Embrace the moment. We will never, ever get this time back.  The circumstances are horrible and we all wish that we could reset the clock back to the start of the new year, but we can’t.  What we can do is try to be positive and realize that this is all temporary.  

    The parents I speak to, like myself, with children over the age of 10 are stressed about going to the grocery store to feed their insatiable appetites, are worried about how this time of remote learning will affect applying to college later or how missing an entire season of sports will impact our children’s future.  However, as we are preparing them for their next phase of life, memories of their childhood become fainter. Many of us are envious of you.  Knowing that we’ll never get this time back is a reality that glares at us while in this stage of parenthood, we’re taking in the time we have left with our children before they leave the house.  No matter how hard things are, they will get better.  

    I needed to steal that three hours to talk to my friend.  They might need the same and may not realize it either.  You know what? Our breaks help everyone maintain their sanity in our household.  So, take a walk, alone, if you can.  My children are older now, so I make them run around our yard to get fresh air.  Sometimes, I’ll do it in the middle of the day during one of their virtual learning breaks. Do what you need to do to take care of yourself and your family.  Everything else will fall in place. 

    Your little ones will grow up and they will have actual memories or your pictures and videos to serve as memories.  I regret scheduling nap time conference calls instead of more time outside with my girls.  Create memories that you’d never thought you’d have.  Make the pillow fort that you don’t have time to make under regular circumstances. Break the schedule to enjoy PB&J outside.

    If you or someone you know is struggling during this pandemic, please click the link below for emergency and mental support. 

    COVID-19 RELIEF

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  • A Letter from our CEO regarding COVID-19

    Dear Clients + Staff,

    We hope you are all staying cautious and remaining healthy during this difficult time that is upon us. We know you may need assistance with childcare and education with the amount of business and school closures, but don’t worry, we will always have you covered. Kid Care Concierge is doing what we can to create balance and help with structure within households. Our KCC Team is working remotely and are doing what we can to assure that we give the best assistance possible.

    Please note that our first priority is health and safety for our clients and staff. We are asking for those who have been exposed to or have been in contact with someone who has contracted COVID-19 to please stay home/do not book a sitter. If you have requested or currently have assistance from our team, please cancel as soon as possible.

    We are asking that all clients and staff take the proper safety precautions during this time by washing your hands, staying clean and healthy, and simply have open communication with our team and clients.

    To help create balance, we have attached downloadable guides to better the household during this difficult time for you and your children. 

    For emergencies, cancellations, questions, comments, or concerns,

    please contact us directly at info@kidcareconcierge.com or 347.921.6821

    Please be stay safe and cautious.

    xo, Natasha Eldridge

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  • Benefits of Volunteering at Your Kid’s School

    Stay-at-home Mom, work-from-home Mom, work full-time, work part-time, running a business, starting a business, full-time student or any combination of work schedule; we’re all so busy.  How many of us are guilty of finding a week’s worth of old notices from the teacher about upcoming events at the bottom of the child’s backpack days after the event has passed? I’ll raise my hand high for this one.  It seems like the children are having some kind of class event every few weeks. Bake-sales, class trips, pizza parties, and book fairs, oh my! It’s overwhelming and expensive.  

     

    It seems like someone from the school is begging for us to do something for the class, every five minutes, right?  Yes, this is true, but I’ve been on the other side of planning such events and I’ll share some insight about why you’re being contacted so often regarding class events.  Teachers are with our children day-in and day-out. Even if we’re asked to send in the 1,000 boxes of tissues and hand sanitizer at the beginning of the school year, most teachers easily spend hundreds of dollars out of pocket each year.  It adds up quickly too. Most districts provide the basics. Teachers get to know our children’s learning styles and emotional struggles intimately. It’s not unheard of for them to selflessly pick up a game or manipulative that will solidify the concepts that the group has been working on for the past several weeks.  Class parties are likely not calculated into the district’s school budget when discussing finances at board meetings. Here’s where the notices found at the bottom of the backpack asking parents to donate time, money or both come into play.

    I know how busy you are and I understand that it may be nearly impossible to be at all school events.  There are; however, huge benefits for us as parents to volunteer at the kids’ schools. 

     

     A first-hand glimpse of how your child’s teacher engages with students. 

    It still tickles me to think back to when I used to work at schools and would run into a family while shopping in the same community. Students, and oftentimes their parents, would treat me like a local celebrity and be seemingly amazed that I shopped for my own groceries too.  The wide-eyed look, the pregnant pause while they’re deciding whether or not to approach in public. Unless running into the store after work, I’d notoriously be looking my worst as if I were making a quick run to the dumpster to throw out trash, but I digress. After the chance encounter, the dynamic of my relationship with the student would usually experience a slight shift as they realized that I, too, was a human who ran errands in sweatpants and not the usual “teacher clothes”.  

     

    Similarly, volunteering in the classroom enables parents to see the more “human side” of school personnel, the good and the bad.  You’ll learn how compassionate and caring the teacher might be when a student falls or how short-tempered he/she might be when a kindergartener has an accident, how often the other teachers gossip, how much the teacher seems to enjoy or perhaps dislikes their job.  The more regularly the parent comes to volunteer in the classroom, the more comfortable the teacher becomes being themselves. Think the first time a guest comes to your home versus the 50th time. I think it’s important for me to get to know the teacher making a life-long impression upon my children beyond back-to-school night and the last day of school.  I also think it’s equally important for the teacher to know that I will “show up” for my kids and not just when I want to complain. So, when I can, I volunteer. Some years, I was class mom, working side-by-side with their teachers to plan all class events. In other years, I wasn’t able to miss work as much and was only able to volunteer once the school year for an hour or two. Should you feel horrible if your schedule, financial situation or both don’t allow you to volunteer?  Absolutely not! But, I’d encourage you to find another way for you and the teacher to get to know each other as “humans”, as I believe it helps build a foundation for mutual respect between parent and teacher. 

     

     

    A view of how your child socializes with peers.

     

    The elementary and middle school years are so challenging.  I’ll be frank with you. SOME kids can be jerks. I don’t fault them because they are children.  They’re learning and growing. Some developing and maturing faster than others. Also, having been a counselor in schools, I’ve been privy to the confidential information shared with me by my students. While I won’t dare share specifics, I will tell you that you have no idea what some children have been through at a young age.  Regardless of zip code or type of school, dysfunction and mental illness are prevalent in the homes of children and the effects oftentimes manifests itself it the only place the child can feel safe, school. Their class bully has likely learned his/her behavior and is either modeling what has been seen, responding to what has been rewarded at home or is coping with the trauma he/she has experienced thus far.  As a parent of a child who has “the bully” as a classmate, there’s very little you can do. However, what you can do is teach your child how to avoid or respond to the other child’s behavior.  

     

    Our children won’t learn how to deal with difficult personalities unless they are taught.  While it’s inappropriate for us as parents to go into the classroom and make another parent’s child feel bad or scold them, even if they are “a bully”, it is very appropriate for us to engage in a dialogue with our own child at home about how they should have responded to an incident that we may have witnessed while volunteering earlier in the day.  One of the best ways to gain a bird’s eye view of how our child socializes in school is to be present. A quick trick from a veteran parent is to multitask.  Kids act differently when you’re there. Be 95% engaged in helping out while the other 5% is discreetly taking note. Work every time.

     

     

    The opportunity to engage with other class parents.

     

    If your child has never been the bully but has been bullied or harassed by a peer, you’ve likely had the thought, “who raised you?”  Here’s your opportunity to engage with the families whose children are helping shape your child’s daily experiences. I don’t know about you but I like to have some insight into their values and perspectives.  Working with other class parents has revealed why the kids might be so darned pushy, as their parents are the same way. Sheesh! 

     

    Likewise, I’ve formed some relationships that have turned into life-long friendships because I’ve learned exactly how much the family has in common with ours.  There comes a point in time where our teens will wake up and believe that we are not wise, we were never children and we know absolutely nothing. Around the same time, they will come to believe that a kid their own age, possessing the same exact amount of minimal life experience as they’ve acquired thus far, knows everything. Parents- let’s roll our eyes in unison. All the more reason to have a clue about how their peers are being raised because like it or not, “those kids” are making an impression.  

     

     

    The chance to steal a few moments with our child during the school day.

     

     

    If you have more than one child or more than one job, you might feel pulled in several directions.  If you’ve ever had to “choose a kid” because your kids have different events in different places, at the same exact time, I feel your pain. Volunteering at my child’s school allowed me to specifically designate uninterrupted time to one child.  It allowed me to be able to steal moments and create precious memories that we’ll hold forever. It sounds cliche, I know, but it is true. I made fruit shish kebabs for my youngest daughter’s kindergarten class trip about seven years ago and it was a hit with the kids and teachers.  My daughter still mentions that trip occasionally. Every time she brings up the event, I recall that I wasn’t going to go but rearranged my schedule at the last minute to accommodate. In the blur of her early years, this stands out to her. I’ve worked a lot and I’ve missed a lot. So stealing the moments that I’ve been able to “figure out”, means so much to both of my girls and me. 

    Being Parent of the Year doesn’t mean that you have to show up every single time.  It’s unrealistic. Do what you can, when you can. That will be enough for your children.  When you are able to show up, being present and actively engaged makes all the difference.  

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