Parent Week - Meet Jessica and her family

This week we are introducing you to different families who are just like you: working from home, trying to homeschool, keep their kids busy, and keep everyone fed 24/7 during the pandemic!

Meet Jessica and her 7 year old son, Kasper, and hear how they are managing the homeschooling schedule and sneaking in some yoga and mindfulness to keep them balanced.

Tell us a little about yourself.
Hi! My name is Jessica and I work in community engagement with many creative and dedicated people at PBS Utah. I have a 7 year old son named Kasper who is currently in 2nd home. I have been trying to fulfill my new role as his full-time teacher to the best of my ability during this unexpected change of circumstances. It has been quite a journey and I have found myself really enjoying being able to be more committed and involved in his learning process, but homeschooling hasn't come without its daily challenges. We are still adjusting and trying to find a balance between school, work, play, and family life during the present pandemic.

What's changed in your family's routine since being home?
My husband normally travels a lot for his job, so now that he is home with us all of the time, we have all had to make some significant adjustments to our routines by learning to adapt to each other's schedules. We have also had to have the conversation about respecting  everyone's personal and working spaces, which has been a very valuable discussion for all of us. We have to be cognizant of when each family member is having Zoom classes, meetings, and important phone calls, and that has required some planning. It has been an adjustment, but we have finally figured out a pretty cohesive work and school environment that meets everyone's needs.

What's a normal weekday schedule for you including the home schooling block?
I tried to establish a regular routine from day one, which involved hanging up a daily schedule that we have on a poster in our living room "classroom." Kasper really enjoys knowing what subject "comes next" and knowing when his recess and lunch breaks will take place. We start each day with a morning mindfulness meditation and yoga session, which has helped us navigate this time of uncertainty a little bit more calmly. Having a schedule has seemed to keep the day more structured and "normal" for Kasper, and for myself. In the very beginning, I tried to make sure that he completed each and every subject and assignment for the specific day...which would oftentimes take multiple hours...sometimes lingering well into the evening.  

After experiencing moments of frustration and tears (from both of us), I realized that what works one day might need to be adjusted the next, and that is a process that is always evolving for us right now. I am not expected to be a replacement for his teacher, but it is my job to do my best to keep my child engaged, happy, and learning. Though I do try to stick to our daily schedule as closely as possible, I realize that each day presents its own set of unique challenges and circumstances. So, on certain days it might mean that we skip the math lesson and work on an art project and poetry all day. And that is OK too. Trying to manage schoolwork, recess, mealtimes, virtual Taekwondo lessons, and my own work tasks, often leaves me feeling busier than I felt before the pandemic! Knowing when to cutback, and slow down is very important during this time. It is easy to start feeling overwhelmed, so when those feelings start to surface, I know that I need to step back and re-evaluate and make adjustments to our routine.  

Hardest thing about the stay-at-home orders?
The hardest thing that we have been challenged with during this situation, by far,  is not being able to see our friends and family in person. Kasper misses his classmates and has been having regular "Zoom" play dates and school lessons to stay connected. His teacher has gone above and beyond and keeps her students' spirits high by constantly providing important learning content and positive feedback to each child about their assignments and artwork. We also make time in our schedule for weekly porch/lawn visits with grandparents and family, which has been nice, despite the masks and 6 foot barrier between us. We try to remain positive, feeling grateful for our health and ability to still see each other despite it being in a different way.

Best thing about the stay-at-home orders?
Taking the time to slow down and spend time doing things together more frequently has been so refreshing. The hustle and bustle of daily life and busy schedules didn't always allow for some of these quieter moments before the shutdown happened. We have been spending our time water coloring, bike riding, bird watching, squirrel watching, movie watching, reading, dog walking, hiking, rock collecting, and making a lot of friendship bracelets. Having my husband home with us more has also been a really nice change. Kasper and his dad now get to spend time cooking and baking banana bread together. 

What do you want other parents to know right now? Or advice you would give?
We are all in this situation together and we will get through it together! We are doing our very best trying to parent, teach, and in some cases work our regular day jobs all at the same time in a situation of ever-changing uncertainty. Even though the COVID-19 pandemic is challenging everyone, there are many reasons to cherish this brief moment in time. It is a time to re-connect to others, ourselves, and our environment. I have found that despite the difficulties and roller coaster of emotions, I have also been able to find moments of peace and clarity that I will remember and cherish forever. I would also like remind parents that PBS Kids has some very beneficial educational resources for both parents and kids to assist in supplemental learning, so definitely check them out!





Want to share your experience about educating your children during the pandemic? Call our messaging service to share how the world of education has changed for your family during the pandemic at 801-587-3267. Your message could be used in our new show, Utah Insight!

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