Project Pinwheel

A note about COVID-19

During COVID-19, it’s more important than ever to continue to look for ways to connect with parents and children. Sharing connection, support, empathy and encouragement with parents and children can benefit both them and you.

Talk to kids about COVID-19. Ask how they are feeling and adjusting to their new routines and schooling, and about their family. The most important skills right now are social and emotional, and building resilience. Without connection and ensuring that emotional needs are met, children cannot learn.




What Educators Can Do


“My kids.” Like parents, teachers use this phrase when talking about their students too—and for good reason. You’re invested in your students’ education, and often, invested in them.


Whether teaching in K-12 or providing extracurricular instruction, educators typically see “their” kids every day and know more than most about what is going on in their world. Educators are uniquely poised to support parents through regular interaction or lend an ear to a child who needs to talk because they’re having a hard time at home or elsewhere.
Listen and Connect

Listen and Connect

Remember that connection is important. Research consistently shows children growing up in challenging environments can be resilient if they have just one strong, consistent adult relationship in their life.1 Teachers are this adult for many children in their care.

  • Talk with the kids you teach. It can be hard to talk about some subjects, particularly those related to bullying, abuse, depression, and stress, but bringing these issues into the open can help forge positive connection.
  • Create a culture of caring, empathy and respect in the class. Demonstrating acceptance and kindness instead of discrimination, bullying and violence helps children to model similar behavior.
  • You may be one of the first to notice signs of neglect or abuse. This can leave you, as an educator, in a difficult position as you decide if what you have observed warrants reporting of suspected abuse to Child Protective Services. This guide from the Washington State Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) provides information about the reporting process.
Help

Help

Educators have a unique opportunity to positively influence the development of children they work with by providing socially and emotionally rich learning environments, implementing intentional child development strategies, and by fostering strong partnerships with families. Finding ways for parents and caregivers to be involved in learning can help strengthen families and promote positive parenting so kids can be ready to learn and engage in the classroom setting and at home:

  • Invite parents and caregivers to join learning activities in and out of the classroom, attend reading or math events or kids’ arts and music activities.
  • Promote positive parenting classes and other ways for parents to interact and build supports through the school community.
  • Help create a safe school environment. Offer curriculum like Childhelp Speak Up, Be Safe or Love is Respect to prevent bullying, abuse, and relationship violence among kids and teens. Know about teen parenting and family planning resources for youth.
Educate and Share

Educate and Share

Share resources that can help your students and their families thrive. For example, Parenthelp123 offers child development, parenting support and help in finding local resources.

Advocate

Advocate

Recommend school policies that encourage community building and support awareness and education around abuse and neglect and the need for trauma-informed care. Consider the following ideas.

  • Advocate for your school to become a member of organizations like Our kids: Our business (OKOB), Spokane’s coalition of child advocates, or the Inland Northwest Early Learning Alliance, a local coalition that advocates for access to high-quality early learning experiences. Both offer training and support to educators and a community of advocates for children and families. Reach out to Community Minded Enterprises at 509.822.8040 if you would like to attend an Early Learning Alliance meeting or training.
  • Partner with organizations with expertise.
    • Invite Stand for Children to offer education in abuse prevention and healthy relationships.
    • Encourage administrators to bring “Ending the Silence,” a free presentation by The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), to your school. “Ending the Silence” opens a dialogue for students, families and school staff to talk about mental health while destigmatizing mental illness and promoting early intervention.
  • Encourage your school to adopt trauma-informed practices and social emotional learning curriculum to help guide faculty and support students facing challenges outside of the classroom.
  • Support students’ families by promoting and supporting policies locally and state-wide that advocate for living wages for caregivers, quality and affordable housing, and/or high-quality childcare and health care for all.
  • Champion the importance of helping other organizations directly, for example—hold a donation drive for diapers or other baby products to support Vanessa Behan.

1 “Resilience,” Center on the Developing Child, Harvard University, last accessed December 7, 2019, https://developingchild.harvard.edu/science/key-concepts/resilience/