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Virtual learning THE FUTURE IS NOW
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Ernesto Burden, x5117 firstname.lastname@example.org EDITOR:
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Learning in a virtual world
Tools and advice to support your new role as a teacher
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Moms on the front line Essential workers face difficult choices during the pandemic
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ON THE COVER: From Wilton, N.H., to around the world: High Mowing School teacher Rob Yeomans uses technology to instruct his students at their homes. Photo illustration created in April 2020 by Kendal J. Bush (kendaljbush.com).
MAY 2020 20 Senior year interrupted A NH high school senior journals about her changing world
22 One child, multiple roles Social distancing is challenging parents of only children
departments 2 From the editor’s desk 4 The short list 24 Tween us parents 26 Dad on board 27 Never a dull moment 28 House calls
150 Dow Street, Manchester, NH 03101 (603) 624-1442, fax (603) 624-1310 www.parentingnh.com SUBSCRIPTION: ONE YEAR (12 ISSUES) $15 ©2020 MCLEAN COMMUNICATIONS, LLC
ParentingNH® is published by McLean Communications, 150 Dow St., Manchester, NH 03101, (603) 624-1442. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without the written permission of the publisher is prohibited. The publisher assumes no responsibility for any mistakes in advertisements or editorial. Statements/opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect or represent those of this publication or its officers. While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in this publication, McLean Communications, LLC.: ParentingNH disclaims all responsibility for omission and errors.
| MAY 2020 1
from the editor’s desk WITH CHANGE COMES OPPORTUNITY — IN LIFE AND IN PUBLISHING contributors • MAY New Hampshire is in better shape than other parts of the country where coronavirus has infected large segments of the population because collectively, we have taken it seriously by social distancing and staying at home as much as we can. But it has not been easy to protect ourselves and each other from the virus. Parents have become teachers; some workers have become unemployed, and health care providers have become superhuman. We miss our families, celebrations have been canceled, and we mourn the loss of the freedom of movement we took for granted. We have suffered and sacrificed so that we can slow down the spread of the virus as to not overwhelm our medical facilities. Stress, anxiety and depression are common. We just want to know when this will end so we can get back to what we were doing before all this started. And we will, but no doubt our lives and society have permanently been altered now that we know that we have the ability to make big changes. There are people who will choose to continue to work from home, some may now homeschool their kids, and we have all had a crash course in videoconferencing technology so we can stay in touch. We will never see things the same way again. At ParentingNH, things changed immediately after schools were transitioned to remote learning. We wanted to get the most up-to-date information to you and the best way we could do that was through our social media channels and our website. We started, and are continuing, to post content to our site several times a day. The May issue of ParentingNH was produced with our team working from home, as was most of our April issue. We’ve been able to share COVID-19-related stories from across the state thanks to a partnership with the Granite State News Collaborative. We even did a photo shoot this month without getting closer than six feet to the cover subject. As conditions modified, we innovated.
2 www.parentingnh.com | MAY 2020
We have learned through this experience that we are ready for another, more significant transformation that we know is going to benefit not only our readers, but also our advertisers who have supported our mission for the past 27 years. The first and only statewide monthly magazine for parents of children and teens is becoming a digital-only publication starting with the June 2020 issue. Whether you are at work or at home you will be able to read issues of ParentingNH on your phone, tablet or desktop. We are also developing more, and unique, content for our website. We think it’s a win-win: Every month you will still be reading our national-award winning magazine, but between issues we will keep you in-the-know with the latest news and information through our website and social media. We are also going to be able to reach exponentially more readers in the state, and beyond, than we could as a print magazine. As a journalist since 1999, I’m excited about the opportunities and possibilities that will come from making this shift, namely the ability to keep you better informed, especially in times like these when you need us most. You’ll never miss a monthly issue when you sign up to have PNH’s digital magazine delivered to your in-box each month. If you register now, you will be in the running to win some great prizes from our advertisers. See Page 6 for details. President John F. Kennedy once said, “Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.” Welcome to our future.
MELANIE HITCHCOCK, EDITOR
BILL BURKE has been writing the “Dad on Board” column since 2008, and he is also the author of the popular “Mousejunkies” book series. He has won seven gold and two silver awards from the Parenting Media Association. Bill is also the managing editor for custom publications at McLean Communications. KRYSTEN GODFREY MADDOCKS is a former journalist and marketing director who now regularly writes for higher education and technology organizations in New Hampshire and Massachusetts. Krysten won three awards — gold, silver and bronze — for writing from the Parenting Media Association in 2020. • firstname.lastname@example.org
KATHLEEN PALMER is an award-winning editor and journalist, marketing/communications content writer and occasional comedic actress. Her column “Never a Dull Moment” was awarded a gold award in the humor column category by the Parenting Media Association in 2020. • kathleenpalm-
KENDAL J. BUSH traveled the world as an editor and videographer for the National Geographic channel and NBC before moving to New Hampshire. She combines years of experience as a photojournalist with her film school education to yield colorful and creative portraits. Her work has been featured on the cover of ParentingNH since 2009, and also in sister publication, New Hampshire Magazine. View more of her work at www.kendaljbush.com.
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EVO Rock + Fitness offers something for everyone! www.evorock.com/concord-nh
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the short list
What do I do if I lose my job or I can’t work?
When will the stay-at-home order be lifted in New Hampshire?
due to the COVID-19 pandemic have immediate access to unem-
The stay-at-home order, along with the State of Emergency, is
Individuals who are unable to work or who have reduced hours ployment benefits. Anyone in the following situations will now be eligible for state unemployment:
in place until Monday, May 4. The Governor may opt to extend the
• If your employer temporarily closes due to COVID-19;
emergency orders before or on that date. Gov. Chris Sununu has
• Individuals that need to self-quarantine or are directed to
already announced that remote instruction will continue in public
quarantine at the instruction of a health care provider, employer
school districts through the end of the school year. For more:
or government official;
What if I can’t pay my rent or mortgage? In March through an emergency order, Gov. Sununu froze fore-
• Individuals that need to care for a family member that has COVID-19 or is under quarantine; • Individuals that need to care for a dependent because of school
closures and prohibited landlords from starting eviction proceed-
closures, child care facility closures or other similar types of
ings (utility providers also cannot disconnect services during the
ongoing State of Emergency). If you cannot afford your home loan
• Self-employed individuals who are temporarily unable to
payments due to job loss, bankrate.com suggests talking to your
operate their business because of the above listed situations
lender or mortgage servicer so they can work with you. Depending
will also be eligible.
on the lender, payments can be deferred for a period of time,
State unemployment benefits have been extended by 13 weeks
among other options. The Governor urges landlord and tenants to
to a total of 39 weeks. Also, there are expanded benefits through
work out a payment plan. When the State of Emergency order is
the federal government — an additional $600 a week.
lifted you will be expected to be current with rent and mortgage payments.
4 www.parentingnh.com | MAY 2020
Go to www.nhes.nh.gov to file a claim 24/7 or call 271-7700 to file a claim.
Am I getting money from the government? The IRS has started dispersing economic impact payments to qualified
PNH’S GUIDE TO
ONLINE LEARNING RESOURCES AND ACTIVITIES
All activities are free unless otherwise noted. For the complete list of resources, go to www. parentingnh.com.
individuals. To see if you qualify, or to check on the status of your payment, go to www.irs.gov. If the IRS has direct deposit information you are likely to get your payment earlier. For those for whom the IRS does not have bank information, checks will be mailed. For more information, go to www.irs.gov.
Where can I turn for additional help? • Granite United Way’s 211 NH initiative is available 24 hours a day and taking calls from New Hampshire residents regarding COVID-19. The Granite United Way has established a relief fund for those affected financially by the crisis. For more, go to www. graniteuw.org. • Feeling stressed or anxious? You are not alone. If you or someone you know is struggling emotionally, help is available. Contact NAMI New Hampshire’s information and resources line at info@NAMINH.org or 1-800-242-6264. • For up-to-date, official information from the State of New Hampshire and Governor’s office, go to www.nh.gov/ covid19. • The Centers for Disease Control has information related to all aspects of COVID-19, including resources for parents, businesses, schools and community-based organizations, and more about social distancing. Go to www. cdc.gov. • Check with your town or city government to see what other resources are available.
REMOTE LEARNING SUPPORT
S.T.E.M. Day Series presented by SNHU.
NH Department of Education www.education.nh.gov
Old Farmer’s Almanac for Kids www.almanac.com/kids Free stories and cool activities to explore.
New Hampshire Learning Initiative/Motivis www.motivis.org Remote learning resource list, best practices for teachers, and support forum VLACS https://vlacs.org/parents/ Tips for parents and students needing help with the transition to remote learning. The Upper Room www.urteachers.org Support and resources for families, children and teens.
ACTIVITIES, VIDEOS AND FAMILY FUN Bookery Manchester Find on Facebook Storytime every day at 9 a.m. on Facebook Live. Children’s Museum of NH www.childrens-museum.org Go to Facebook or YouTube for videos, activities and more. Currier Museum of Art www.currier.org/currierfrom-home Engage with the museum from home through various art activities and videos for all ages. NAMI New Hampshire https://youtu.be/viyftatEGCc Storytime for kids updated weekly. NH Theatre Project www.nhtheatreproject.org The whole family can join in this imaginative storytelling session. Through creative play and word games, each family member can participate as together they build a bedtime story that reflects their own family history and traditions. Suitable for families with children of any age. 45 minutes. $10 per session. Mondays at 7 p.m. through May 25. NH Fisher Cats www.nhfishercats.com Fun activities, at-home resources, community outreach and more. Be sure to check out the Lesson of the Day as part of the Virtual
Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains www.girlscoutsgwm.org Virtual programs for both Girl Scouts and non-Girl Scouts. Find more activities on its Facebook page.
Storm Watch 9 www.wmur.com Virtual weather lessons from the WMUR-9 team for all age groups. Strawbery Banke www.strawberybanke.org You’ll find virtual tours, and a virtual classroom features fun at-home educational activities.
GET FIT Executive Health and Sports Center www.ehsc.com Check out the Center’s free virtual group exercise and extreme videos posted on its site.
SEE Science Center www.see-sciencecenter.org Video demonstrations and activities. Seacoast Science Center www.seacoastscience center.org New lessons, activities, and resources each week to support at-home learning, empower children to investigate nature, and help families find respite from today’s challenges. Squam Lakes Natural Science Center www.nhnature.org/resources Enjoy nature at home with online learning experiences brought to you by the Science Center’s Naturalists. Strawbery Banke Museum strawberybankemuseum. wordpress.com/ This family-favorite living history museum is now offering virtual classroom activities and virtual tours. Steve Blunt Singer/Storyteller Find on Facebook Activities and singalongs with the popular children’s entertainer Steve Blunt.
Fortitude Health and Training www.fortitudeht.com Free 20-minute virtual fitness classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 2 p.m. as part of the Fit Kidz NH program. Find it on their Instagram Live page. Greater Nashua YMCA www.nmymca.org/beyondour-walls A wide range of virtual options to keep people of all ages healthy and connected. Connect with them on Facebook to check out their Facebook Live Fitness and Wellness classes. Harvard Pilgrim Health Care www.harvardpilgrim.org Living Well at Home with Virtual Classes: Whether you are looking to shake it up, stretch it out, or get centered, we’ve got you covered with Zumba®, Yoga, Guided Mindfulness, and Wellness sessions, which are now available to everyone. Easy to access all classes via Zoom.
The Works www.theworkshealthclub.com Find virtual classes and workouts on their Facebook page.
NHPR www.civics101podcast.org A new learn-at-home resource is available. Each episode related to civics is paired with a lesson. Kids can then quiz themselves on what they learned.
YMCA 360 www.ymca360.org Ys have collaborated to create an on-demand healthy living network called YMCA 360 with programming for kids and families. Free for a limited time.
NH PBS www.nhpbs.org Videos, activities, remote learning resources for teachers and caregivers updated daily.
| MAY 2020 5
is going digital! As the first and only statewide magazine for parents of children and teens, ParentingNH is the media brand in the Granite State that readers turn to for information on issues that are important to their families. A trusted resource for more than 27 years, subscribe for free today and never miss an issue. Subscribe to ParentingNH’s monthly digital magazine and you will be entered to win one of these great prizes and more. You’ll also receive our award-winning newsletters that will keep you in the know about the latest news and things to do with your family.
Sign up for the digital magazine of PNH at: www.parentingnh.com/subscribe/ and a chance to win these great prizes*! • Steele Hill Vacation Club Three-day/two-night stay valued at $499
• NH Climbing & Fitness (formerly evoROCK & FitNeSS) One $100 gift card
• YMCA of Greater Nashua Three month membership valued at $252
• Water Country Family four-pack of one-day passes valued at $180
• NH Climbing & Fitness (formerly evoROCK & FitNeSS) Birthday party for up to 10 kids valued at $210
• Chuckster’s Family four-pack of four rounds of golf valued at $152
6*Exclusions www.parentingnh.com | MAY 2020 may apply.
• Chuckster’s Family four-pack of one-day passes valued at $132 • The Palace Theatres One of two $100 gift cards good towards any program or show • Altitude Family four-pack of jump passes valued at $60 • Copper Door $50 Gift Card • tBones $50 Gift Card
Now Enrolling 2020-21
SUMMER VACATION CAMP at the Health Club of Concord June 22nd through August 21st
Inspiring students through hands-on learning Infants through 8th grade Flexible tuition program Londonderry, NH 603.818.8613 www.SNHEC.org
Camp sessions are 5 days a week from 9–4 with options for early drop off and late pick up. Weekly swim and tennis lessons are included. Sign up for one week or all nine. Reserve your spot today! 603-224-7787 | www.healthclubofconcord.com email@example.com
| MAY 2020 7
On the front Moms who are essential workers during this crisis face difficult choices BY KRYSTEN GODFREY MADDOCKS
ith New Hampshire schools closed and remote learning continuing through the end of the school year, parents are juggling more now than ever. And it’s tougher still for those essential workers who must commute to their jobs at hospitals, police stations, grocery stores, banks or newsrooms. Some receive hazard pay and protective equipment for their work,
Kaylie Stewart of Londonderry is a registered nurse at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. COURTESY PHOTO
while others do not. Not only are they potentially exposing themselves to COVID-19, but they worry about introducing the virus to their families. While working on the front lines is par for the course in professions such as health care or law enforcement, it’s new territory for others. Even for those professionals used to working during a crisis, COVID-19 brings with it new challenges and fears.
KAYLIE STEWART, 36, of Londonderry, is a registered nurse at Brigham and Women’s hospital in Boston, where she normally works in surgical oncology but is now working in the special pathogens unit, which deals with COVID-19 patients. Sometimes her shifts are cancelled, but lately it’s become very busy; she expects to work long shifts in the weeks ahead. Thankfully, her husband works full-time from home to watch their two children Adelaide, 5, and Shea,
8 www.parentingnh.com | MAY 2020
line 3. Adelaide, who is in kindergarten, is participating in remote learning. “We do the best we can on my days off,” Stewart said. “Her teachers are amazing and have been so supportive and understanding of our situation.” Like many moms in the same situation, Stewart said that she feels a pull between caring for her patients, coworkers, and family. “I am stuck in this weird place of needing to protect my family but also needing to do my job,” she said.
LINDSAY MATRUMALO, 32, of Sandown, reports to work at a busy veterinary hospital in Salem. Although her hospital doesn’t care for people, it ensures that animals with emergency medical issues are treated. As a busy practice manager, Matrumalo schedules staff and appointments, manages business operations like payroll and accounts payable and receivable, and occasionally assists as a veterinary technician or receptionist, if needed. Her husband is also an essential worker, and they are parents to a 19-month-old son who is still in child care. “I am also 22 weeks pregnant, which is the scariest part for me. I am not as concerned with me getting sick, but with how it could affect the baby or my young son,” she said. “In my line of work, we have to come in very close contact with people when they hand off their pets. My pet hospital is taking every precaution to stick to
Lindsay Matrumalo of Sandown manages a busy veternarian hospital in Salem. COURTESY PHOTO
social distancing guidelines, but it’s impossible to pass a pet over a six-foot space. We’re also touching owners’ leashes and harnesses, which can carry the viruses on them.” Matrumalo wears a surgical mask and gloves, but her employer’s supply is dwindling. Her own hours have increased, and she hears about the stress other employees are feeling daily. Most customers are grateful, while others take their stress out on her fellow employees, she said. “We’re afraid to come to work every day, but this is what we signed up for in choosing to work in the veterinary industry. We would like people to be patient with us as we constantly change our protocols to keep everyone safe and healthy,” she said. “…for me personally, it’s a constant battle of being afraid/ upset that I’m required to come to work, but I’m also grateful that I can still receive a paycheck.” Nurses and health care workers aren’t the only moms working on the front lines. In New Hampshire, the essential services list includes hundreds of jobs in the food and agriculture, energy, utilities, transportation, and financial services sectors, to name a few.
Jennifer Buck of Merrimack works two part-time essential jobs — 20 hours a week at a bank, and per diem as a residential counselor, where she helps adults living with mental illness. COURTESY PHOTO
JENNIFER BUCK, 41, of Merrimack, is a single mother to daughters Madelynne, 6, and Lylah, who is almost 4. Right now, she works two part-time essential jobs. She works 20 hours a week at a bank, which includes a mix of weekday shifts and Saturdays; and she has a per diem position as a www.parentingnh.com
| MAY 2020 9
LEARN, PLAY AND EXPLORE THIS SUMMER AT
• Ages 6-12 • 8 weeks Available • Before and After Care • Full and 1/2 Day Options • Canoeing/Kayaking • Hiking Trails • Two Ponds on 200+ acres • Outdoor Classroom
Become a Counselor-In-Training (CIT) • Students Age 13-14 • Receive half off registration fee (Except Week 5) • Gain leadership skills • Help lead team-building activities • Build your resume
For more information, visit ndatyngsboro.org/summercamp/
Early Bird Savings for Registrations received by MAY 1 180 Middlesex Road, Tyngsboro, MA • 978.649.7611 ext. 335
SUMMER FUN FOR KIDS BEGINS HERE!
The Club Fit Kidz Summer Camp Fun and fitness in an educational environment
Ninja Club activities include ninja obstacle training and fitness, swimming and outdoor soccer, basketball, volleyball and intro to spin classes. Ages 4–12 years old welcome! 18 Orchard View Drive • (603) 437-8888
Salem activities include pool, rock climbing, splash zone open swim, intro to all things fitness, healthy competitions and a variety of fun fitness classes throughout the week. Ages 4–12 years old welcome! 16 Pelham Road • (603) 894-4800
residential counselor, where she helps adults with mental illness meet their treatment goals and assist with their daily living activities. Buck’s mother, a 65-year-old retired nurse, helps her care for Madelynne and Lylah while she’s at work. Although Buck wears a fabric mask and gloves at both jobs, the threat of COVID-19 exposure still remains. She credits both of her employers for following proper social distancing recommendations, sanitizing, and ensuring workers, customers, and patients are kept as safe as possible. The bank has provided its employees with an additional two weeks of paid time off and cash bonuses for employees who cannot work from home and she’s been assured that there won’t be layoffs as a result of the pandemic. Buck also has an opportunity to pick up extra shifts at the residential home because one of the other relief staff members can’t work due to family obligations. As a mom who shares parenting time with her daughters’ father, Buck said her biggest worry is passing the virus on to other family members. “My co-parent has voiced worries of me contracting the virus and the possibility of us both being sick at the same time, without anyone to care for the girls,” she said. The stress of balancing two jobs in the COVID-19 environment particularly adds stress to single-parent families, Buck said. “This has affected me emotionally because it takes additional mental energy to homeschool, and I already feel ‘spread thin’ as a single parent. My daughters miss school and seeing their friends, so they need more reassurance and attention from me than usual,” she said. Videoconferencing calls via Zoom, worksheet packets, and activities geared to the kindergarten and preschool levels, as well as virtual dance and Hebrew lessons take the place of the girls’ normal classes and extracurricular activities. Buck tries not to stress out about completing every activity each day and continues to be impressed by how organized her district has been and how attentive the teachers are to her daughters. She’s also thankful to be able to continue to work as it makes her feel less anxious while also keeping her feeling busy and helpful. “I believe this unprecedented situation is hard on everyone, whether they are an essential worker or working from home. I feel it’s hardest on those who have been laid off or furloughed, since they have to worry about a change in income,” she said. “In my experience, for the most part, people seem gracious to those of us who need to work outside our homes and put our families at an increased risk.”
Contact Ann Marie Caprio at firstname.lastname@example.org
Full or half days 10% Sibling Discount. Member and non-member pricing available. Cannot be combine with any other offer. Certain restrictions apply.
10 www.parentingnh.com | MAY 2020
Krysten Godfrey Maddocks won three awards for writing from the Parenting Media Association in 2020.
THE FOUNDERS ACADEMY Due to popular demand, The Founders Academy has expanded its summer camps into a six-week-long full-day summer program! Come join us for weeks filled with exciting adventure, enriching activities, and weekly field trips as we explore the core themes that we at Founders — and the rest of these United States — hold dear to our hearts. Each week, we will survey a new theme: character and leadership, history, literature, STEM, art and music, and academic skills. Each day will be filled with fun projects and valuable lessons, from crafts to athletic events. Registration is open, and our space is limited. Sign up before March 1st to receive our Early Registration Deal — the $50 registration fee waived!
5 Perimeter Road, Manchester NH 03103 (603) 952-4705 | email@example.com thefoundersacademy.org
We Love Taking Care of Kids
16 Foundry Street Concord
(603) 224-3339 ————————— 299 Main Street New London
(603) 877-0069 —————————
25 South Mountain Drive Lincoln
D R . P ATRI CK C A POZZI D R . R OG ER A CH ONG
D R . D A NI ELLE H I NTON
D R . E LLIOT C H IU D R . M I CHAEL C A POZZI
C ONCORD P EDIATRIC D ENTISTRY N EW L ONDON P EDIATRIC D ENTISTRY L INCOLN P EDIATRIC D ENTISTRY
The Pediatric Dental Specialists www.parentingnh.com
| MAY 2020 11
How parents can better Whether youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re proficient at remote learning or still struggling, these tips will help BY KRYSTEN GODFREY MADDOCKS
12 www.parentingnh.com | MAY 2020
support remote learning
or the first time in the history of New Hampshire public education, students and teachers have transitioned from classroom learning to remote instruction.
This move from in-person to online instruction, to help slow down the spread of COVID-19, has required teachers and students to learn new skills and new technologies, leaving parents with questions about their roles in the process and best practices. In mid-March, Gov. Chris Sununu asked schools to move to remote instruction for two weeks, before extending it another five weeks through at least May 4. On April 16, the Governor announced kids would not be returning to school at all this school year. To help parents navigate through this new model, the University of New Hampshire’s Alumni Association tapped alumni education experts to provide tips and resources for families. UNH alumni Angela Curtis, M.Ed., Ed. S., a school psychologist in the Triton Regional School District in Massachusetts; and Maggierose Bennion, M.Ed., a first-grade teacher in the Epping School District, delivered a webinar that included suggestions on ways to approach academics and foster emotional well-being. “With my perspective as a school psychologist and Maggierose’s perspective as a teacher, we decided that focusing on routine, working through frustrations, and (providing) various resources to keep children engaged would be particularly helpful to support families,” Curtis said.
SET A ROUTINE THAT INCLUDES FLEXIBILITY Students should follow a predictable routine. Younger children particularly benefit from following a visual daily schedule. Bennion said it allows them to better understand how they can expect to spend their day. It also helps them gain a sense of control and can decrease anxiety. She also suggests parents give their children some choices related to how they will spend parts of their day — like what they want to eat for lunch and whether they should
color or paint. For those kids who hate tackling a particular subject, it’s a good idea for parents to alternate preferred activities with non-preferred activities. “If your kid doesn’t love math, sandwich that between two really engaging times so they are motivated to get that work done and move to the next task,” Bennion said. Expect frustration to intensify in a remote learning format. Parents need to figure out when students are challenged and when they are apt to do no work and shut down, Bennion said. Some tips and tricks for getting through those frustrations include: • Setting a timer • Providing ample transition time between activities • Working with your child to determine when in the daily schedule he or she will tackle more challenging subjects or activities “The more successful your child feels, that will snowball, and they are going to be excited to keep trying new things,” Bennion said. “Remember to be flexible, it’s a hard time for everyone, adults and kids.”
MAKE USE OF ACADEMIC RESOURCES In addition to following the lesson plans provided by your child’s teachers, there are plenty of online resources available to parents that address academic subject areas, fine motor activities, gross motor activities, and social skill development, Curtis said. Not only are there websites that give tips and practice in the areas of math, science, social studies, reading and writing, but parents can visit other sites that virtually transport their children to zoos, national parks, and even The Great Wall of China. For children under 12, these types of websites can help create visual experiences that young students are apt to remember, Curtis said. “These (websites) allow us as educators and parents at home to connect with what the teacher is sending home and provide ideas that our children can choose from to keep them engaged as well,” Curtis said. For children in the lower grades, it’s just as important to practice fine and gross motor skills as it is to tackle math problems. Fine motor skills, such as the tripod grasp, are what help students hold a pencil correctly, Curtis said. There are activities parents can do with their children to keep these skills sharp, including: • Creating collages • Painting/ coloring • Cutting/ gluing • Using stickers • Playing with kinetic sand, sticky putty, or slime • Scrapbooking • Sewing • Jewelry making or beading • Cooking www.parentingnh.com
| MAY 2020 13
Parents can also incorporate math into some of these activities, such as cooking, Curtis said. “If you are doubling recipe that calls for a one-half cup, but you are baking two batches of cookies, have your child determine how much is a half of a cup times two,” she said. “The visual is also a wonderful way get your child involved as well.” And while your child may not be attending gym class, they should activate their muscles with movements that focus on strength, agility, and cardiovascular fitness. Parents can be creative if they lack ample space for traditional gym activities. For example, kids can go on indoor and outdoor scavenger hunts that ask them to find objects on checklists. Other out-of-the-box physical activities such as obstacle courses, online yoga, races, bike riding, nature walks, and games like tag and Duck, Duck, Goose can also keep kids active and engaged, Curtis said. Interspersing activity in between academics can pay dividends, too. “On GoNoodle com, kids can choose what activity they want to do.” Curtis said. It’s a quick brain break.”
WHILE SOCIAL DISTANCING, KEEP BUILDING SOCIAL SKILLS When kids are bored, games can encourage problem-solving, perspective taking and leadership, according to Curtis. Games give kids the opportunity to show their leadership skills and focus on planning and organizing — executive functioning skills that require kids to think ahead. You may be able to incorporate math concepts without your child knowing. Some game ideas include: • Playing cards • Hide and seek • Follow the leader • Simon Says • I Spy • Memory • Board games like checkers, chess, Battleship and others “Games are wonderful for math,” said Bennion. “There’s logical thinking, addition. It can be as simple as using a set of dice or a set of cards. Anything with numbers involved is great for math sense, no matter what the grade.” Parents should make time to integrate creativity and play into their remote learning curricula, too. Curtis said. Building with Legos, for example, is not only fun, but it calls upon visual skills, spatial skills, and hand-eye coordination. Other suggestions include building forts, creating puppet shows, working with Play-Doh or clay, and storytelling. Forts are not only fun to build, but they can also serve as your child’s own study or decompression space. Similarly, puppet shows can help them process what’s going on in their lives. “The research has really shown that storytelling helps them with their own sense of sequential memory, going through the process of a math problem, for example — what happens first, what happens next, what happens then?” Curtis said.
14 www.parentingnh.com | MAY 2020
RESOURCES ParentingNH’s Guide to remote learning resources and activities for all ages: www.parentingnh.com To view the UNH webinar on distance learning held April 3, and to view the slideshow, go to https://unhconnect.unh.edu, click on events and select UNH Webinar Library from the drop down menu. Common Sense Media’s screen time recommendations: www.commonsensemedia.org Customize a Family Media Plan: www.healthychildren.org
CHECK IN ON YOUR CHILD’S EMOTIONAL WELL-BEING Parents can expect to see more temper tantrums and tears than usual even if their child is progressing through academic subjects without a problem. It’s important to help them understand how they are feeling and label those emotions so they can be internalized, Curtis said. “In play, you may see some different themes — therapeutic play, themes of illness, doctor visits, and isolation play. This is helpful for these children, because play is cathartic. It’s how they process their world and it’s how they problem-solve,” Curtis said. To help give kids perspective, parents can encourage them to keep a gratitude journal and list three things that they are thankful for each day. It can help them think of their time at home more positively, Curtis said. Parents should not shy away from letting their kids use technology to connect to people they miss and make social distancing more tolerable. “A wonderful thing about this time that this is happening in our society and in the world is that we do have access to technology. Giving your child the ability to make that phone call to grandma or to a friend and having a visual video session is wonderful for them,” Curtis said. “They can really continue to feel connected with anyone really meaningful to them in their life.” Talking to your children about COVID-19 and social distancing continues to be important, Curtis said. PBS.org provides developmentally appropriate resources that can help them better understand the disease, help them navigate through scary stories, and teach them how to deal with tragic events in the news. Finally, with all of the COVID-19 news out there, parents should try to limit their child’s exposure to potentially frightening news. It can be daunting and overwhelming for children, and also make them feel unsafe — triggering unnecessary fear and anxiety. “We are being bombarded with information from the media; and that can be a good thing to keep us up to date, but it also can be extremely overwhelming,” Curtis said. “Your own self-care and coping strategies might look completely different for you as they do for your child, which is why giving them choices about how they can decompress is going to be very useful as well.” Krysten Godfrey Maddocks is a frequent contributor to ParentingNH.
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| MAY 2020 15
Top: Darcy Drayton, Grade 7 teacher. Below: Grade 3 teacher, Sarah Azzinaro.
FROM A DISTANCE
PHOTO BY KENDAL J. BUSH
ONE NH SCHOOL’S EXPERIENCE WITH REMOTE LEARNING ACROSS GRADES AND COUNTRIES • BY KENDAL J. BUSH It’s 6:18 a.m. and High Mowing School teacher Rob Yeomans has already enjoyed a cup of strong, black coffee. It is not unusual to see Yeomans sitting on the porch of his home on the rural 300-plus acre HMS campus in Wilton enjoying his coffee with his sixyear-old black Labrador Willow by his side. Lovingly referred to as the “science lab,” Willow is not phased by the unusually quiet campus that is normally home for day students and boarding students from over 20 countries. “It is like tumbleweeds rolling by watching the quietest campus on the planet,” Yeomans said. “At 6:30 to 7 a.m. the students would be coming and going to the dining hall for breakfast, staff would be coming to work, the maintenance crew would be out, everyone would be getting in to their groove for the day.” In the B.C. days (Before Coronavirus), the day would also start with his wife, Kate, planning the curriculum and events for the Yeomans’ nonprofit, Merrowhawke Nature School, and their boys Cody, 15 and Jack, 17, getting ready for class. “They don’t get to see anyone,” he said. “Concessions with technology are the only outlet to see their friends.” Rob, who has been teaching for more than 20 years, recalls that the start of the Learning Beyond Our Classroom program at High Mowing in mid-March was really hard for the kids. “Initially I thought we should be online for the entire class period and just run the entire class the way we usually did but just on a screen. The high school students brought their concerns to the faculty, [so] we had faculty meetings and reshaped the protocol and made agreements on the length of class times.” The shift in class time has altered Rob’s approach. Slight alterations with the online interface resulted in what he refers to as “guided learning.” He sets the parameters for an assignment, gives the students the instructions, reviews the process, and answers questions. Then the students carry out the experiment, giving them the opportunity to find the answers. “This is the biggest challenge I’ve ever leaned into. How do we keep it fun, inspiring and worthwhile? I ask myself, how would I feel, what would I want? And am running my classes keeping that in mind.” At the lower school on the Pine Hill Campus at High Mowing the teachers often stay with their class starting with grade one and continue with
16 www.parentingnh.com | MAY 2020
the same class through grade eight, a feature of the Waldorf pedagogy created by Rudolf Steiner in the early-20th century. Grade 3 teacher Sarah Azzinaro said, “when you are with a student for an extended period of time, you discover their work habits and learning styles. You have the opportunity to truly see each child and help them awaken their inner potential.” Azzinaro structures the school day with an online group morning check-in, followed by circle time where Sarah and her students gather together for songs and dances before beginning their morning lesson. After their time together as a class, students have daily assignments that are supplemented with videos, audio recordings and readings. “My goal during this time is to continue my connection and partnership with the children. Although I am sad that I will not get to see my students in person every day, I am excited to explore a new way of teaching and learning.” Students also meet for their subject classes like French, Mandarin, handwork, and movement with other specialized subject teachers. One of the biggest challenges with online group meeting platforms is creating a group dynamic similar to the experience of being in a group that is physically together. The class play is something students eagerly look forward to, so Azzinaro created ways for the class to experience the production of their play with distance learning. Instead of getting together in-person to make the props and the sets and costumes, the students are learning flexibility and creativity by making their costumes with things they have around the house. When the play is performed online, the students will hold up hand-drawn pictures of what the scenes look like. Reflecting on this new approach to teaching, Azzinaro remains positive, and encourages her students to do the same. “What I am really seeing is the children of the future capable of navigating challenges with reverence and adapting to change with enthusiasm. As we move forward, we can be like the children of the future and tackle changes with warmth and readiness.”
While the 9-year-old students in Azzinaro’s Grade 3 class aren’t overly worried about how they look or sound via a computer screen, the dynamic is different with the older students. The students in Darcy Drayton’s Grade 7 class are more self-conscious when they see themselves and each other through a screen. A year away from retirement with 30-plus years of teaching under her belt, Drayton has sympathy for her students. “You have middle school students who are already very aware of how they are changing, and how they may or may not look in front of a camera, and that can be hard. I’m looking at my almost ‘retired’ face, as an older person staring at myself every day, and it’s like ‘Ah! I’ve had enough of that already!’ So I am very sympathetic to what it must be like for them.” Like her colleagues, Drayton is looking at the current educational context as an opportunity. “I decided to look at the content of what I am teaching through the lens of what is happening in the world today. I extended the physiology block by a whole section on microbiology exploring the science of viruses and, in particular, the coronavirus.” For all of the teachers at High Mowing, the main challenge of the physically distanced teaching environment is to stay connected with their students. At a time when record numbers of students nationwide have logged off from learning, teachers are faced with making the curriculum accessible, interactive and fun for the students with whom they share this life-changing experience. “We’re social beings,” Drayton said. “We’re meant to be together. We’re not meant to have to relate across screens.” The community up on the hill at High Mowing is looking forward to an on-campus reunion for the 2020-2021 school year, but the teachers continue to make the most of the Learning Beyond the Classroom experience. “I have told my students that we can take this time to cherish and appreciate what we love in this world. We can be grateful for this day and enjoy the simple things in life. We can observe the changes in nature, spend more time with our family, and remember what is essential. We will still continue to learn and grow together. Every day is a new beginning full of fresh possibilities and blessings,” Azzinaro said. Kendal J. Bush is ParentingNH’s longtime cover photographer, and this month she’s a writer, too.
| MAY 2020 17
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| MAY 2020 19
<INTERRUPTED> Editor’s note: Katie Burke, a senior graduating from Timberlane Regional High School, will be sharing her thoughts with readers this spring and summer about what it is like to be a high school senior getting ready for college. Part 1 was written in March and early April.
20 www.parentingnh.com | MAY 2020
Coronavirus co m This is not the senior year I had in mind BY KATIE BURKE
enior year has gotten a lot more complicated.
A couple weeks ago, I was getting ready for college, applying for scholarships, and counting down the days until graduation. I’m now wondering if and when I’m even graduating high school. All students of New Hampshire schools are now being quarantined in their homes. It was originally supposed to be until April 6, but now I don’t think anyone really knows how long it will be (Editor’s note: on April 16, the Governor extended remote learning through the rest of the year). As a senior with less than one semester left of high school, this is not the most ideal situation to be in right about now. Most of my senior class is worrying about things like the senior cruise, the prom, and even graduation getting canceled, which isn’t something any of us thought we’d be worrying about at the beginning of the month. Something else that bothers me is how all my friends who went off to college came home, but I can’t even see them. We’ve been reduced to occasionally chatting via cell phones and playing Minecraft, which is the next best thing I suppose.
o mes a-knockin’ The least favorite part of this is the cancellation of things I was looking forward to. I’m a part of my school’s improv group, the Milkmen, and so far, we’ve had one show canceled, and my prediction is it won’t be the last. I was also in a play, a comedy called “Love Sick,” that was canceled. We did get one performance in so at least we had that opportunity. The NHMEA Classical All-State Music Festival was also canceled, which is definitely understandable, since it’s a large gathering of many different people from many different places. As a bass player, I was really bummed about that since I had made All-State every year and now, during my senior year, it was canceled. As we started remote learning, I found the school work was not hard at all, since I don’t take AP classes. I just dedicated one day of the week to taking care of all the work for my classes, and that was it — definitely a plus for this situation. More time to catch up on video games. Initially, it was described as being different from the workload they give for a snow day, but the amount of days I’m staying home is the only real difference it seems. The first few days of the school shutdown consisted of me laying on the couch with my dog while my mom worked and we all watched “Breaking Bad.” I guess that technically counts as a science class. Thankfully, the new Animal Crossing video game was released a week after the beginning of the quarantine, so I have a new video game to spend hours and hours playing. Sure enough, I’ve played it almost every chance I’ve gotten, even playing online with a few of my friends, so — social, right? Unfortunately, the game was too good and my dad ended up getting hooked on it, too, so I have to share the controllers and in-game building resources with him now. (He’s terrible at it, but he tries.) At least it gives me an idea of what having a roommate is like and having to share everything, since Animal Crossing New Horizons has become my life now. It’s nice to be able to be outside virtually and do what I can’t right now in the world of Nintendo. We’re doing our best, though. Our school’s improv group was able to attempt a pre-recorded show over Zoom. The main challenge is the lack of a live audience and being able to hear if people
are laughing or not. Performing comedy live versus filming it ahead of time is very different. It’s hard to know whether a scene is successful or not, so the whole thing is kind of risky. Not to mention the technical aspect of it when there are 15 people with their mics on in one call; it can get a bit chaotic. As time goes on, things don’t seem to be improving. When those two weeks of school were first canceled, I actually thought that would’ve been it, and that I’d go back to school after that. However, about halfway into the first week, it was pretty clear that it would be more than two weeks. Sure enough, I’m stuck in my house for the next month and a half at least. I’m trying not to be overly dramatic about all this, because I know I am far from having it the worst. There isn’t anything I can do about this, so I just do what I can. It’s not like it’s only me — people all over the world are all going through the same thing as me and the rest of my family. Plus, not everything to come out of this is bad. It has proven that a lot of people can still work from home and be able to do their jobs, which makes me think if anything will be different after this all ends. This shows that the internet is a very valuable resource that has made the world easier. Everything about this would be totally different and far worse if we didn’t have technology to rely on to keep the world running. Seeing people helping other people has been really great as well, like restaurants donating food to families who need it, or people just handing out masks and antibacterial products to others. There might not be a clear ending in sight, but that doesn’t let people give up hope.
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Katie Burke is president of the Timberlane Regional High School’s orchestra and the Tri-M music honor society. She is a bass player who performed in the jazz combo, jazz band, chamber orchestra, orchestra and rock ensembles and in a number of musical pit bands during her time at the school. Katie is a four-year NHMEA All-State musician and she performed in the school’s improv troupe, The Milkmen. If the creek don’t rise, as it were, she’ll be attending the University of Southern Maine to study music education in the fall.
| MAY 2020 21
Only children face Parents are now their child’s playmate and teacher BY KRYSTEN GODFREY MADDOCKS
hanks to the social distancing practices brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, siblings are learning to rely on each other for entertainment in the absence of their friends. Sure, they may fight over the video game controller and get on each other’s nerves, but they have each other to play with when mom heads out to work or dad closes the door to his virtual office.
For only children, social distancing can be downright lonely. Not only have their parents become their teachers, but they’ve also become built-in playmates. Some parents worry that their companionship just isn’t enough to bridge the gap. Genevieve Buck, 42, mother to 14-year-old Samantha, lives in Portsmouth with her husband and works two jobs: one as a Disney vacation planner and another as a part-time job office associate for a company that distributes commercial laundry equipment. As an essential worker, Buck still is able to work her second job. Samantha, a Portsmouth High School student, is an only child who now socializes with her fellow teens exclusively through the online video program, Zoom. Recently, she attended a friend’s birthday party “virtually.” She and her friends watched Netflix together at the “party.” Still, the computer is a poor substitute for the daily interaction Samantha, a field hockey player, usually enjoyed before schools moved to remote learning. She misses seeing her friends. “She was very sad, and I said that it is OK to feel sad and miss them; this is no fun for any of us,” Buck said. “Most days she is home alone while my husband and I go to work. I have let go of being as strict with phone time as that is now her only way of communicating with her friends.”
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different challenges Buck and Samantha make time for daily walks and even play field hockey together; Genevieve said she makes a conscious effort to be with her daughter to talk and listen. “I am making sure I make a connection with her and make sure she is OK and knows she is not really alone,” she said. For younger only children, parents find it difficult to fill those social gaps while they juggle the demands of their own jobs. Amanda DeGiovanni, 34, of Hampton, is mom to her only child, Brecken, a four-year-old who had attended a child care center in Hampton Falls before the pandemic shut his center down. DeGiovanni works for a nonprofit organization that supports adults with developmental disabilities. Her job has quickly changed into a virtual one and now requires her to create videos for clients while she cares for Brecken. She said she experiences “mom guilt” for allowing Brecken more screen time so that she can work. “I don’t want to park my child in front of the TV; however, I have to keep his attention on something to complete my job,” she said. Brecken had received speech therapy at school and is now receiving those same services over Zoom, which DeGiovanni said is going better than she expected. They’ve used this technology to keep in touch with school friends in addition to going on daily walks and scooter rides together, where they get to see neighborhood dogs and kids from a distance. While DeGiovanni works, she tries to keep Brecken as busy as possible with musical instruments, movement toys, and anything else he can find in his playroom or bedroom. While Amanda doesn’t think a few weeks of social distancing will have any long-term effects on Brecken, she does experience the stress of ensuring he is entertained. “I want him to succeed in self-play and seek out whatever it is that gets him engaged. But overall,
he wants a playmate — me,” she said. “I can only play so much without stressing about housework, my job requirements, or time for myself.” For parents of only children who feel guilt and worry that several weeks of social distancing might have a negative, lasting effect, Sarah Wagner, a school psychologist who works in Epping, offers reassurance. Wagner, of Lee, is mother to a six-year-old only child who attends kindergarten. She and her husband, also an educator, are both working remotely and juggle working and spending time with their daughter. They have helped her socialize with peers through brief video chats. Together as a family, they play board games and outdoor sports to continue giving their daughter opportunities to practice taking turns, winning and losing, and problem solving. “I have learned that taking the time to do something with her — even if it’s only for 10 minutes, every couple of hours, has helped considerably,” she said. Social distancing will be hardest on teens, who are naturally more peer-oriented, whether they are only children or have siblings, Wagner said. “Younger teens in the height of moodiness and irritability, which is likely to lead to conflict at home when parents and children are spending so much time at home isolated together,” she said. “The good news, if that’s how you choose to see it, is that our teens today are so adept at using texting, social media, Xbox, and other technologies as a way to connect with kids. In fact, that is how they socialize today, so social distancing is really not changing the way they interact with peers all that much.” Kids of all ages who are used to very structured schedules that include organized after-school activities like sports aren’t used to having a lot of downtime and may be experiencing boredom for the first time. Parents shouldn’t feel like they have to fill these gaps, Wagner said.
“Being bored is actually good for kids and for their social/emotional development. Parents should not feel like they need to rescue their children from this discomfort. It is by moving through this discomfort themselves that children learn to self-regulate, invent, imagine and create,” she said. The good news for parents is that this period of extended social distancing will not only come to an end, but it is unlikely to adversely affect an only child’s social skills. Children are incredibly resilient and do fine, provided they receive enough nurturing and connection at home. What Wagner said she is more concerned about is children reacting to the anxiety that their parents are feeling as a result of the pandemic. “We are an anxious society to begin with, and I know this pandemic is creating very real fears for many adults regarding their own physical and financial health and that of their family and friends,” she said. “Parents need to be in tune to any major changes in their child’s behavior that may indicate they are becoming anxious, such as crying more than usual, being withdrawn, sleeping more, irritability and moodiness, anger, outbursts, etc. All of these can be signs of anxiety.” Genevieve credits the teachers and staff at Portsmouth High School for doing a great job with online learning but is looking forward to the day when Samantha is able to see her friends in the school halls. She does believe that social distancing is harder for families who have an only child. “Even if your kids are not the best of buds, they have each other when the parents are stressed out or one parent is losing it,” she said. “But as an only, you are by yourself with no one to share that experience with.” Krysten Godfrey Maddocks is a former journalist and marketing director who now regularly writes for higher education and technology organizations in New Hampshire and Massachusetts.
| MAY 2020 23
Advice and tips on raising older kids
This month’s discussion topic:
Keeping your teen healthy COMPILED BY KATHLEEN PALMER
s is the case with most facets of parenting a tween or teen, keeping them healthy is only partially in your control. (Editor’s Note: This column was compiled in late February before the state was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.) We can purchase wholesome groceries and serve nutritious meals, but there are vending machines at the school and visits to friends’ houses. You have to cross your fingers that you have set a good enough example and instilled a taste for healthy foods that will guide their decisions. Your evolving young person has to learn to make
healthy decisions for themselves based on their perceptions
This month’s panel:
and realizations. Nutrition, exercise, sleep and social
Lisa M. of Merrimack Shanin L. of Nashua Susan R. of Mont Vernon
have to manage on their own.
interactions will all be important aspects they will It can be difficult to watch from the sidelines, so we asked parents: What tips do you have for exercise, nutrition, sleep, emotions and mental health, etc., that relate to tween/teen health?
24 www.parentingnh.com | MAY 2020
» MERRIMACK, AGE 48
» MONT VERNON, 54
Mom to two sons, ages 14 and 16
Mom to twin daughters, 18, and a son, age 16
BOTH MY SONS ARE ACTIVE IN SPORTS,
FOCUSING ON HEALTH HAS ALWAYS BEEN IMPORTANT
but also enjoy gaming and watching movies. I have been lucky; both have very healthy appetites. I started with healthy choices from their first solid foods as babies and went from there. I figured the foundation I built then would have a great impact during this stage of their life. They do eat junk like everyone else, but they also request Brussels sprouts and broccoli on a regular basis. They get up super early for school, and we try for a reasonable bedtime during the week. But I allow them stay up on weekends and school breaks. I feel it’s a balance — we can’t control every aspect; we can’t be there at every turn. But I know they are thinking about what they are eating when making their decisions. They know to rest when their bodies tell them to. They have memberships to the local YMCA. They ride their bikes to their friends’ houses during the nicer months and they walk our dogs daily. They do understand if you put junk in that’s the result you will get in return.
» NASHUA, AGE 38
Mom to a son, age 14
KEEPING MY SON HEALTHY HAS BEEN LESS DRAMATIC THAN EXPECTED. He’s approaching 15 and eats just about any vegetable I throw at him, even Brussels sprouts. He does not drink soda, he will have juice once in a while and he prefers water over most things. Though I do not monitor his video game usage, he’s pretty reasonable. On the weekends or vacation, he tends to stay up late playing or watching shows. I’m pretty sure he’s on his 10th round of The Office. During the week, he’s in bed by 10 p.m. I do not have an athletic child — unless talking qualifies as a sport. He’ll walk around with friends and participate in occasional games. Overall, he’s a pretty healthy kid without me having to prompt him.
to my husband and myself. He struggled with weight since high school, so we talked about educating our kids so they could maybe avoid the same struggle. When the twins were old enough, they tried ballet, tap, gymnastics, soccer and lacrosse. Gymnastics became one’s favorite, cheerleading for the other. The girls loved their sports and never had to be “forced” to go to practices. In fact, these passions have carried them both into college. Later, our son also tried various sports/ activities — soccer, lacrosse, football, baseball, karate, gymnastics, basketball — before settling into football and baseball now in high school. We were not super strict on eating, but we didn’t have junk food in the house. Treats were allowed, but we always talked about the healthy choice, and taught moderation. We encouraged them to pay attention to how they felt after eating: any stomachaches, headaches, etc. Learning to listen to what your body needs and what makes it feel not so good. All our kids have witnessed family struggles with weight and health issues and how unhappy and miserable it can make them. They prefer to not have to go through that. Those are choices they have made themselves. Because the kids were so busy, they had to be disciplined about homework, meals, sleep and just being a kid and having fun. The structure was good. Their friendships were built around these activities. They all have good sleep habits, usually getting eight to 10 hours. As far as tech time, we never had to enact strict limits; they were too busy doing other things. We can teach by example until we are blue in the face, but when it comes down to it, in the end they are going to choose for themselves.
| MAY 2020 25
UST GO ON
THE SHOW M
dad on bored DAYS OF YORE AND TOILET PAPER INSTEAD OF COUNTING DOWN THE DAYS TO GRADUATION, WE’RE COUNTING THE ROLLS BY BILL BURKE
le Learn to jugg e Ride a unicycl ire Walk a tightw wn act Create a clo
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I’ve been keeping a secret for lo these 13 years I’ve been writing the Dad on Board column for ParentingNH, and it is this: I’m a time traveler. In the magazine world, we work ahead by a month or two, so I’m writing this from your past. I’m currently in the early days of the stayat-home edict, when the currency of the realm is toilet paper and I’d kill for a chance to whine about parking in Manchester’s Millyard. So, let me ask you, people of the future — how’s it going? Did we ever get flying cars? What’s going on in May 2020? Because right now, I’m not sure any of us have any clue what it’s going to be like a week from now, let alone nearly two months. This is not the column I thought I would be writing. I’m supposed to be chronicling my daughter’s high school graduation and dad-bragging about everything she’s accomplished and how I can’t believe time has passed so quickly. Instead, this one’s all about how we have no idea what life will be like in May. Will there be a senior award night, a music banquet, an arts major signing day, prom? Will there even be graduation? I know disappointment over possibly losing these things seems petty when others are dealing with more serious challenges — something we may have to face between the time when I’m typing this sentence and when the magazine goes to the printer. But it’s OK to feel a sense of loss for things we’ve dreamed about and looked forward to for years. Still, I have to try to take the positive out of the situation. Let’s take stock: • I found a YouTube video that loops “Crockett’s Theme” from “Miami Vice” for 30 minutes straight. You may think I’m making this up. I assure you I am not. • My daughter’s Animal Crossing island is an embarrassment of riches where every citizen lives in utter excess. Even that knee-capper Tom Nook has a begrudging respect for her financial acuity. • My daughter has been able to see a lot of people going out of their way to help one another. There are more examples of “how can I help?” than “I’ve got a closet full of ammo. Don’t touch my stuff.” • I’ve always jealously guarded the time we have together as a family. Well, now I’ve got plenty of it. I feel lucky that my kid seems to be weathering the unknown fairly well, especially since she has no idea what comes next. She’s supposed to go to college in Maine next fall, and she’s not even sure how that’s going to go. None of us are. So, person from the future, what happens next? Bill Burke is a writer who lives with his wife and daughter (seriously, like, nonstop, 24/7) in southern New Hampshire. He is also Managing Editor of Custom Publications for McLean Communications.
26 www.parentingnh.com | MAY 2020
never a dull moment RISE TO THE OCCASION (OR DON’T) IT’S UP TO YOU — WE CAN ONLY DO WHAT WE CAN DO BY KATHLEEN PALMER
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I’m writing this in my third week of quarantine at home with my 14-year-old daughter. My daughter leaves her room only for food and bathroom breaks for an hour each day. She’s been quarantining herself for over a year now. She’s an old hand at this. Things are different, but things are the same. She’s so used to using a Chromebook and a cell phone and doing school work in Google Docs and having FaceTime phone calls that this new normal has been an easy adjustment — at least on the surface. I do know she has loved not having to get up at 5:30 in the morning anymore. Frankly, so have I. Being a writer means you’re lucky enough to be able to do your work anywhere, so working from home has been a relatively easy adjustment for me as well. The only nagging thought I have — besides, of course, the rampant, bloodcurdling fear for our survival, no big deal — is that I have some deep-rooted guilty obligation to use this time to produce a better version of myself for the world, once we are allowed to re-join it. I’m sure you have some level of this feeling if you spend any time on social media. You might see people with organized whiteboards of homeschooling lessons, and happy, smiling children spending quality time with their parents. You might see people cleaning and exercising, and going for walks around your neighborhood with a lot of ecstatic dogs. I have a lot of friends in the theater community so my newsfeed is filled with people offering videos of themselves singing or performing in some way to make the days less grim. I migrate from the bed to the laptop to the recliner and back to the bed. If I manage to cross one thing off a list each day, I count it as a win. My friends kindly remind me our only real obligation during this time is to keep ourselves and our families safe and healthy. But I have been plagued by my first-world existential angst to be a better person for years now. I was always “too busy.” So here we are locked down with the luxury of time. What are you gonna do with it, Kath? Maybe I will create some better daily habits, make room for things besides staring at my phone or watching sitcoms. But maybe I will simply survive. And I will be grateful for that opportunity.
Kathleen Palmer is an award-winning editor and journalist, marketing/ communications content writer and occasional comedic actress. Her column “Never a Dull Moment” was awarded a gold award in the humor column category by the Parenting Media Association in 2020.
| MAY 2020 27
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The new normal we find ourselves in, balancing family time, homeschooling and working from home, is also a new source of stress from social distancing and isolation caused by COVID-19. Here are a few tips to help manage everyone’s stress as we get through this: Perspective Remember that this is temporary. It’s true that we aren’t sure how long it will last, but we do know it won’t be forever. Many of us are working from home while helping our kids manage remote learning. For many, this is new territory, but there are others who have done it — and done it successfully — so it is possible. Expectations You’re probably not a certified teacher, so be gentle with any expectations to teach like one. The point of homeschooling now is to stay safe and healthy while providing an alternative learning experience. Get creative! Younger kids can learn reading and math while cooking, or writing and physical education with a nature journal. Older kids can practice presentation skills, research and writing by creating PowerPoint presentations on fun subjects such as “TikTok for Parents” or for the sports fan, “Quarterbacks in the NFL Draft.” Flexibility Structure is helpful and important, but being too rigid can add stress. Can you be flexible with the hours you work at home? Instead of keeping to a 9-to-5 schedule, start your day at 6 a.m. if you are a morning person, or work a few hours after your children have gone to bed if you work better at night. If someone can help keep children busy during the weekend, take a few hours off during the week and work on the weekend. This flexible schedule can work for students, too. As long as they log their required times they can spread their study time throughout the day. Incentives Incentives are often invaluable. After explaining the structure and expectations for the new daily schedule, let your children know you’re willing to be somewhat flexible, then offer incentives for effort and a job well done. These might include: • Virtual playdates • Having a movie night where they get to choose the movie • Skipping a chore for a day • Extending their bedtime on the weekend Our health and well-being are most important right now, which is the reason for the social distancing measures and stay-in-place restrictions. To help get us all through this time remember to be gentle and flexible with your family, and especially with yourself. Shiri Macri MA, LCMHC, is a Licensed Mental Health Clinician for the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Employee Wellness Program.
28 www.parentingnh.com | MAY 2020
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4 www.parentingnh.com | DECEMBER 2020