Listen, and You Will Hear

Teachers often jokingly tell parents at Back to School nights, “I’ll only believe half of what your child tells me about you if you will do the same for what your child tells you about me!”

Children, for the most part, like to talk about what is going on in their lives and usually tell it like it is. I wanted to know what children are feeling and thinking right now, when their daily lives have been so altered by the pandemic. I decided to set up some interviews through technology to find out how the wheels are spinning in those amazing little heads.

I asked several children I know (boys and girls ages 3–16) four questions about their thoughts on what is happening now that they have been home with only their families for over a month. The results might give us some clues on how we can help them process this challenging and life-altering experience we are all going through. I will show the questions and then list the responses by age groups.

What has been the best part of staying home with only your family?

3- to 5-year-olds:

  • Eating yummy lunches together

  • Playing with my kinetic sand and chalk

  • It’s fun to have dad home

  • I like playing more with mom and dad

  • I like my new home classroom

6- to 8-year-olds:

  • Family game days

  • Eating chocolate malts

  • Buying stuff from “Mom’s Store” after I earn tickets

  • Playing with my indoor basketball game and playing football with my dad

  • Ordering a snow cone machine that I saved $20 to help pay for (if the virus isn’t still going we are going to have a stand outside and you can come and get one!)

  • Getting BBQ chicken at Sonic

  • Watching more TV

  • Sleeping in

  • My dad has been helping me with my homework more and I have got to know my family better

9- to 11-year-olds:

  • Sleeping in

  • I like that everyone isn’t running so many places

  • We are all still learning things

  • I like learning lots of things at home better than at school

12- to 16-year-olds:

  • I like that we get to spend more time together

  • We get to watch a lot of movies together

  • Being able to stay in my pajamas

  • Not always having somewhere I need to be

  • I feel more refreshed

What has been the hardest part of staying home with only your family?

3- to 5-year-olds:

  • Not being able to go to the Dollar Store and get butterfly wings

  • I miss my school

  • Playing with my friends

  • Having to go to the doctor when mommy has to get her shots

  • I miss my grandma and grandpa

6- to 8-year-olds:

  • Not seeing my friends

  • Missing my teacher

  • Not getting to go to the cookie store

  • I miss my three friends

  • Missing my great grandparents

9- to 11-year-olds:

  • Going outside to be with my friends

  • Not having a regular routine (I do better with a routine)

  • Still having the same amount of school work to do but not being able to play with my friends at recess

12- to 16-year-olds:

  • It feels like a school break but not as fun since I don’t get to be with my friends

  • It can get boring because we can’t really go anywhere

  • I miss playing sports and it makes me feel sad inside

What is something new you’ve learned while being quarantined at home?

3- to 5-year-olds:

  • How to use a knife

  • I learned how to play Uno

  • I made a police car out of a box

  • I get to do lots of arts and crafts

  • I’ve been learning sight words

6- to 8-year-olds:

  • About polar bears

  • How not to put metal in the microwave

  • How to wash and fold laundry

  • I’m learning to do three-digit subtraction

9- to 11-year-olds:

  • How to use technology better

  • I’ve learned to be more thankful for my family, food, technology and protection

  • I can’t think of anything

  • New ways to do math because my parents don’t understand how they teach us in school

  • How to have church at home

  • How to bake better cookies

12- to 16-year-olds:

  • I’ve learned that I actually like school

  • I wasn’t sure before but now I know I like learning in a classroom better than from a computer

  • Learned to make new bracelets

  • How to make a baseball field in my yard

What worries you most about the COVID-19 virus?

3- to 5-year-olds:

  • That you have to stay away from people

  • That you can’t hug people

6- to 8-year-olds:

  • I worry if I get too close to someone, that one of us is going to get it and die

9- to 11-year-olds:

  • I worry that one of my friends or someone in my family will get sick

  • That it will take a long time to go away

  • If I will ever get to go back to school

  • Will I be able to do things in the summertime

  • That my mom thinks one of us might get the virus

12- to 16-year-olds:

  • I worry that it spread so fast and hit when we weren’t really ready

  • I wonder if we will ever catch up

  • How long will we have to be home

  • That I won’t be able to see my friends before we have to move

What are some of the takeaways from this exercise?

Children are still learning and growing during this lockdown. Overall, they seemed to enjoy school and miss it but they also enjoy having more time with mom and especially dad. Many skills can be taught in the home that they don’t learn at school.

Food and friends are important at every age! They seem to bring a sense of belonging and comfort. One mom said one of the hardest things during this time has been being able to filter things with the kids around so much. She felt they were hearing more adult concern than they were use to. This can be seen in the worries. We need to continue to strive for the right age- appropriate balance.

COVID-19 brings fears and challenges especially surrounding the people we love. Keeping these thoughts in mind, gives us cues to continue to teach and learn together. Enjoy this time while we have it. Children are strong and resilient. Keep up the good work parents! I believe this time will produce children with strong character.

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