Creating a positive home environment, and other tips for uncertain times

The uncertainties surrounding parents right now can feel unmooring. Questions arise, like “Will my child be able to return to school? Are they becoming socially isolated? How will this impact their future?”

Young child on a laptop at the kitchen table.

Michael Nakkula, chair of the Human Development and Quantitative Methods Division and co-founder of the Project for Mental Health and Optimal Development (PMHOD) at Penn GSE, and Andy Danilchick, co-founder and director of PMHOD, are helping teachers care for their students and their own mental wellness during this COVID-19 era.

Parents would also benefit from cultivating what they call an “uncertainty mindset,” a disposition that encourages embracing the unknown to remain responsive to needs and opportunities as they emerge.

Parents can begin by asking themselves, “How can I make my home a safe and supportive space for learning?” Communicating with their kids, their teachers and other parents makes a big difference, as well as being an advocate for equity.

At a time when students and families face vastly divergent challenges in adjusting to COVID-19-era learning environments, schools sit at the nexus of national equity concerns. Often, parents may recognize issues before teachers do. They know which students are spending more time alone because their parents are essential workers, or who has responsibilities to care for siblings.

“We know one of the most stratifying issues at the moment is lack of internet and device access,” shares Danilchick. “If that is a problem in your family—or, if it isn’t, but you are aware of policies penalizing kids for this inequity—reach out to the school and push for change.”

Read more at Penn GSE.