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A Childcare Provider’s Role During Remote Learning

TLJ: Athena, how long have you been a childcare provider?

AZ: I have been a childcare provider off and on for over ten years, usually doing short spurts with families while they are going through intense times. I am currently with a family in the South Bay.

TLJ: Has your role changed since the pandemic hit?

AZ: I think the biggest change has been navigating through the depression and mental health aspect of the children. The kids don’t have extra-curricular activities any longer, which used to be a flooded calendar, it is now rather empty. Instead of sending the kids to dance, I am now the dance teacher. Instead of the kids going to track, I am now their team-mate and we go on short runs or long walks. I think that the most important role that has changed for me as a childcare provider is to recognize that they rely on me more heavily for the structure that was provided through their day by their schoolteachers, extra-curricular coaches, and most importantly their peers. With this pandemic we have been gifted time. And with time we get to manifest who it is and what we want to be and create in this world. Children are no different. They sometimes just need to be guided and reminded that this life is theirs to live, explore, and examine. It is an honorable space that we hold as childcare providers and I hope that we can recognize how sacred of a space it is.

“It is an honorable space that we hold as childcare providers and I hope that we can recognize how sacred of a space it is.”

TLJ: In regard to your new duties in helping the children navigate their new mode of education and way of life, what does the structure that you provide look like in the home?

AZ: The traditional task of making certain that the kids are woken up, faces washed, fed, and teeth brushed all while rushing everyone out the door to walk to school, have gone out the door. Structure looks a little bit different these days, but this is something that my role is built upon. Structure for me is everything. Even in the bits-n-bots, it helps me function as a loving, kind, and creative childcare provider. It helps me build a solid foundation. The children in my care need to know and trust with their innermost self that I will provide a secure space for them, and more importantly within themselves.

“Structure for me is everything, even in the bits-n-bots.”

AZ: On Friday afternoon the kids drop off their homework pack at school and pick up the next weeks work folder. We then go over the new homework assignments for the next week. At first it was a little difficult to get them to take ownership of their work, there were a few tears shed and frustrations. But soon after, things did change. The kids were proud to show me everything that they had completed in their packet and long before it was due! They saw how good it felt to do things on their own terms and ran wild with it.

AZ: In the beginning when I showed up, the kids wouldn’t get out of bed and had a hard time getting up for school. They literally would sign in one minute before class was to begin. The structure I provided was accountability and teaching them systems. We set up a system for waking up. One of the kids wakes up on her own with ease and gives herself two and a half hours to have her own time. The other is more difficult to wake so a wake-up call at 7:50am works best.

AZ: This has greatly improved our mornings as they are given the time that they personally need to wake up. When I walked into this position they would cry, scream, and sometimes kick because they did not want to wake up. This new morning routine is huge in their house and has given them a bit of power. The system sets the tone for what will be accomplished for the school day. At 9am school starts, and they have two hour sets, and then they get a break. We have two desks set up face to face with a white magnet board in between as the kids’ divider. The kids have been provided nice lighting that they can control. We use part of lunch time to get outside and go for a walk or run with the dogs. When school is out, I let them be free to explore what it is that they want to explore. This is really important for their mental health. The youngest has recently stated that they want to feel strong in their body, so we are starting to use the punching bag and box together. Every household is entirely different and with this home the most important structure I have been able to facilitate for them is to teach systems that work for each person.

“To create a strong foundation is to empower.”

TLJ: What have been your strongest positive observations of remote learning? What about the negatives?

AZ: One positive aspect is how quickly the kids have adapted. The negatives are missing out on the their friendships, human contact, and interactions. Diversity in who we surround ourselves with is wildly important to our growth, and having such a limited circle of people to be around has been hard on their mental health. The other thing I have recently started to notice is that the kids are starting to have a bit of anxiety of going back to school. Everyone has gone through such changes that they are worried about being different. We are trying to remind them that everybody is in the same situation and to celebrate our differences. We are a work in progress, and I think that for these two kids it will be a positive benefit for them to be surrounded by their peers once again.

TLJ: Do you have any suggestions for parents to help ease the stress of remote learning for their children and for themselves? What about for childcare providers?

“Routine, routine, routine!”

AZ: Routine, routine, routine!

  • Creating good sleep hygiene is crucial to de-stressing a home
  • Get out and get some fresh air no matter where you live even if it’s just for 15 minutes
  • Allow a space for the children to attend school, it helps the child’s brain to switch over from relax mode to focus mode
  • Teach time management, rather than being the person that controls what they do with their time
  • Talk about what the work for the week is and what is expected from the school system so they can prioritize their time
  • For both parents and caregivers, self-care is absolutely the single most important aspect of keeping our stress levels balanced
  • Be kind to yourself and breathe

TLJ: Do you have any final thoughts on the effects of remote learning on our children/teenagers?

AZ: My final thoughts…I am so proud of what the kids have been able to adapt to. Everyone has been put through the ringer – the teachers, students, parents, childcare providers, etc. But the ability to adapt, navigate through their emotional triggers and stressors, and still come down the stairs with smiles has been an absolute win. Kids and teens have lost something to their childhood and have missed out on being with their peers. But what they have gained I believe will take them far into the future. They now have tools that they would not have possessed if it weren’t for this pandemic. As many are itching to go back to school and people are yearning to go back to “normal” I think it is important to focus on what growth we have acquired. What skills do we now posses that we didn’t before?


Athena, thank you for sharing your story.


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