Educating The Whole Child At Home During Quarantine: Helping kids cope with anxiety and learn from life–Diary of a Teacher During the Coronavirus Crisis, Entry #3

During this period of mass school closures around the country and around the world due to COVID-19, Seattle teacher Jesse Hagopian is sharing his experience with educating his kids at home and helping social movements to promote public health. Below is Jesse’s “Diary Entry #3.” You can follow these posts at Jesse is conducting a free webinar on Thursday, March 19th at 1pm Pacific Time titled, “Education in the Time of Coronavirus.”  In this presentation he will talk about his own experience transitioning from being a classroom teacher to homeschooling his children, share resources to support parents who are looking for activities for their kids, and talk about how we can build a collective struggle to support the most vulnerable students and families who are hardest hit by the closure of schools and the lack of a social safety net in this country. You can register, while space is available, here.

As the coronavirus news continues to worsen, I am determined to build a positive space at home to help my two kids understand what is happening in our world—in an age appropriate way—and contribute what I can to the struggle to uplift the most vulnerable people during this crisis.  

The updates on the impact of the coronavirus today have been severe.  Reports today reveal that one in five households have already experienced a layoff or reduction in work due to the pandemic. There are more than 200,000 cases of COVID-19 worldwide, with over 8,000 deaths reported.  Iran has been one of the hardest hit countries, and the outbreak is widespread around Europe. There have been over 6,200 recorded cases and 107 deaths in the U.S., but public health experts have said that the true rate of infection is likely much higher due to a severe shortage of tests.  In my own King County is one of the hardest hit areas in the country with 562 confirmed cases and 56 deaths. 

In cities from Seattle to New York City, all schools have been closed as well as restaurants, bars, and retail stores.  This has had many effects, but one of them is certainly that many parents and caregivers are gaining a special appreciation for teachers as they attempt homeschooling and learn how hard it is to teach! 

I know even for myself, there have been moments over the last few days where I have felt it’s easier to teach a class of 30 kids than to have my own two boys at home all day.  Part of that, I know, is because of the difficult circumstances we are under.

My household is increasingly feeling the stress as the coronavirus crisis mounts around the world.  My 7-year-old boy is especially anxious about not being able to see friends or his first grade class.  And I am sure, as much as I have tried to hide it, both of my boys are picking up on my anxiety about the increasing restrictions to public life that are occurring in Seattle and around the country.  I checked out the King County Public Health guide for talking to kids about the COVID-19 crisis, which recommended asking your kids how they are doing and allowing them direct discussions about this outbreak.

 At breakfast this morning I asked my kids if they were worried.  My youngest said, “I’m not too worried.  Well I’m not worried for me but I am worried for Grandma.” He meant his 85-year-old great grandma.  I told him it’s okay to be worried and that I worried sometimes too.   Then I told him that we were going to work very hard to stay safe and healthy and that I was here to help him if he had any questions or needed anything.  I realized at that point that today’s homeschool “lessons” were going to be all about helping my kid stay positive in this difficult time.

I started by asking what he does when he feels worried to help him feel better.  He told me that he learned from his school counselor that you could take deep breaths.  I told him that was an excellent idea and that first period was going to be mindfulness. I went online to and found a mindfulness mediation video for kids and we did it all together.  My 7-year-old thought it was kind of silly but at the end I at least felt more calm and grounded than before.

Next we had “art class” and my son drew a picture of someone fighting the coronavirus. Given that the school our kids go to can’t afford to have an art teacher, I was really grateful for this time where they get to express themselves creatively.

My Son’s depiction of the fight against coronavirus

Then, for social studies, we moved to an on-line game called Spend Bill Gates’ Money. We started the game off with 90 billion dollars and learned just how hard it is to spend that amount of money. For example, they bought every single NFL team and still had 16,400,000,000 left! The examination of Bill Gates’ wealth quickly led to a discussion of how if he wasn’t hording all that money, people could work together to figure out how to best use it to help everyone–including helping a lot of people who have just lost their jobs be able to feed their families.

Then, for the most important subject of the day—Recess!—we got out the bikes and went outside.  My youngest son has never learned how to ride a bike and I thought we should take this opportunity to teach him.  At first he was nervous about falling, but I told him I would be right there next to him and if he fell, I’d pick him up and we would keep going.  Then, to my amazement, he hoped right on and took off!!  Watching my older son cheer on his little brother as he conquered his fear of falling was a true joy. 

I also wanted to make sure that my kids stay connected to the people that are such a part of their lives.  When we came back in, the kids called their great grandma.  She was thrilled to talk to them and it really lifted their spirits to see she was doing so well.  They also called their best friends and invented a game: FaceTime hide-and-go-seek. My younger son hid in the house and my older son took the phone around with him so their friends at the other end could help direct where they should look. That kept them busy for a good long time!

One thing I realized from our day is that the new homeschooling moment that many millions of us around the country have found ourselves in doesn’t have to look like kids doing work packets.  You can cover a lot of subjects—and kids can get a deep and meaningful education—by simply engaging them about these unprecedented times.  If your kids are begging for worksheets and need that structure, by all means provide them for them.  But for all the parents who are at home with their kids right now, please don’t pressure yourself to make sure that your kids are keeping pace, day by day, with the regular curriculum they were getting at school. School districts should refrain from requiring the endless filling out of worksheets–because it could put students at risk for missing the deeper education that this moment affords.

As tough a time as it is right now, we can also make this into an opportunity to expand the definition and purpose of education.  Now, more than ever, we need education to address the moment we are in as a society and we need education to be relevant to our children’s lives.  Taking the time to keep our kids connected to their friends and family is education.  Having our kids express their creativity is education.  Talking to our kids about good hygiene and how to stop the spread of coronavirus is education. Taking time away from standard school lessons to just relax and engage in film studies on the couch with the kids can be an important way unwind and manage stress. Investigating the distribution of wealth in America and showing kids how inequality is making coronavirus more dangerous to our communities is a deeply valuable education. And what I have discovered, most of all, is that taking the time to discuss our feelings with our kids is the best education we could possibly give to our children.

–Jesse Hagopian

Teacher, Seattle Public Schools

Editor, Rethinking Schools magazine

Director, Black Education Matters

Editor, Teaching for Black Lives

2 thoughts on “Educating The Whole Child At Home During Quarantine: Helping kids cope with anxiety and learn from life–Diary of a Teacher During the Coronavirus Crisis, Entry #3

  1. Pamela J Shoop

    Jesse Hagopian Living on Avalon for ten years was so peaceful. Having lived an idyllic life other than sadly traumatically losing my 5 year old brother and mostly seeing the toll it took on my Mother. Living there looking across the ocean gave me a perspective with the time to question life. Having my beloved parents wanting to prepare for a future without them, all this knowledge we have gained from our ancestors, all those who spent time with us, then vanished, at least from our sight.
    Dissecting everything on this earth, atmosphere, studying the elements as to which ones change and why, finding out all the precious jewels that make us up, my goal is to make people aware of this. Clearly peeling off layers by using Latin and Greek meanings for scientific words. Difficult to understand why science continuously keeps us in the dark without answers as to what are we made of, how do our bodies work, what happens when we are no longer visible? Although all this research leads to the mysteries and have now been proven still the faces of innocent’s lost, would make me get hysterical.
    This research has been done since 1999. Thinking it was ahead of it’s time, it is overtime for this to be explored, studied, learned about then shared. I thought about a Victims’ Rights Institute, to amass the most valuable information these lives can give us still by sharing in there prevention. The sadness this oversight carries, by not heeding the clues, missed warning signs, finding out from the most unfortunate aftermath of these horrendous ordeals. Through such grievous lament we owe it to society because they do not want us to grieve.
    Proven not by psychic abilities but through chemistry, there is no such thing as death the word should be removed from every book written, our bodies decay, they expire only to respire. This is where our Spectrum comes from, prisms used for dispersing light into reflecting rays of light bands of colors, inside of pigments. Where do they come from? Taken through the growth from the Earth’s crust, inside of seeds, of plants, mosses, algae combine with minerals. You will also find prisms in the natural world, such as mineral crystals, which have frequencies at a rate at which a vibration occurs that constitutes a wave, either in a material (as in sound waves), or in an electromagnetic field (as in radio waves and light)
    Used in every form of communications only by ways of decomposition of a materials decay. Having the opportunity to send my entire research then book to a scientist living on an Island in Washington State, who was 92 his name John Cooper author of the first books on plastics. This is what he said, ” This topic has challenged the minds of many for thousands of years. Prophets, Philosophers, Theologians, Scientists and legions of others each from his or her own world-view, have provided clues. You have done a commendable job of seeking out many of them.”
    However, the questions are still here as to why some are destined and happen as willed Sacrifice, while others are consequences of ones’ life style. With every Spirit that rises, go their genetic Aura, a Sphere of Influence, of a deep purpose of adventure. Nearly impossible for us to accept let alone perceive and just how do we distinguish this unexplained loss? How do we seize these factual outcomes? There is only one way to their sacrifice, has to be embedded into their DNA. Many countries know of the power the spirit still hold in our Ancestors. Honoring lives that still live on through our Genetics together in unison blood still flowing thru our veins to our brains! Inheriting every part of us from our Fathers’ to Mothers’ and theirs. Somehow, the scientific community lost their way from becoming stewards of: Humanity, at the helm of a co ordinance against the way of the current, against our natural vestigial. Believe man’s misguidance is from the lack of the study or understanding of these life sciences have created such inadequacies.
    My first acknowledgement was the shooting of 12 young adults 1 teacher in Colorado. How can we helplessly keep watching these patterns repeat?
    Can’t forget them, remember them as they still are around us, teaching lessons of their sacrifice. Decay, by ways of orchestrated light particles of magnetism produce the Electricity we use, through gases, plasma, bone particles as calcium that only come from the Sea. Portraits as pictures are seeing us because they actually are, in, this time and space. Film is made of negatively charged cellulose when the flash appears it coexists with that person phosphorous chemical in their own RNA/ DNA, that transposes onto the positively charged magnetic tape, then records, all things double as you know, all things have mirrored images, one negative one positive it is how all magnetic fields lie down…
    Inspirational messages instigate someone to boost his confidence. Inspirational messages provide courage and strength is just exactly what we are doing in how important this is to continue to show our gratitude, patience, tenacity, approach all who need attention, it’s a pleasure to be there for them in their desperate time of need. Share what we have in common our perspective on death of what comes after, learning growing from each other, on an individual basis to keep open directions of other’s Faiths. Serious development of an open mind will bring forth a Universal window into a realization of belief’s, combining many components.
    Our lives can only happen in concert with theirs in the basic of ways, ink is from the ocean, paper from trees, insects guide our genetics, transferring our DNA in every meal we digest. Letters, numbers line up direct us through technology formulate in space, in our air spectrum. Decades of promising myself along with the endless energies armies of spirits of souls a proposition wished for: that is, envisioning the future, showing the way guiding us into an all consuming reality which we have faltered is exactly how to describe their working towards this incredible momentum we have now their stars and ours are lined up.
    Science has awarded the Nobel for War technologies which are the most important lethal weapons we must dispose of. Humanities abstract mosaic of the most abysmal inhumane practices our eyes-mind have to witness pathetically imbibe in. No longer can we let corruption be our architects, building on our weaknesses, our addictions, need preventative methods first! The need to revolutionize ways of thinking now. Caged memories defined their influences affecting children of parents who fought for our country and other countries rights to peace. Turning to today with the production of movies, video games featuring so much disregard as they slaughter humans all over again why so many of our Soldiers are taking their own lives leaving their families alone…
    What these Families come out with is Passion, fighting so hard to have come this far, so many joining together in class action law suits are finding their way through a corrupted system! A Numbers game can ensure even more coverage with all outlets to echo the depth of pain! What if this is the time, our moment to create the ways to logically reverse there violent influences put upon us. Finally to make them see that spending money on all things to end the destruction. They have Lawyers fighting for them why can’t Victims and Survivors have theirs along with Counselors etc. Re-Script man away from Wars, Gun Violence, All forms of Violence from all streets the barrage the inequality all the Maps are useless. Breaking it down to Wars! Who are we to be more afraid of? Stop the fear, fear of reprisals teams who sides with particular groups on one belief, over another. Stop any and all arms race, building them, to delivering them, reducing them worldwide with a focus on migrants of War as Victims building a Corporation with the Trillions of dollars from these weapons. The whole world needs a Marshall Plan with endless amounts of money.
    A Worldwide Day of Endowing, reasons for being, which holds various symbols for many Countries such as; bestow, donate, empower, enhance, enrich, subsidize. award, bequeath, contribute, organize, support, sponsor, supply, in every language Globally, could be the way to saturate this huge undertaking by incorporating logic by affiliating altruistic ways, with a Granting of a new Holiday! Imagining what this particular day could hold, to be thought of and stand for, as: Pulling the certainty of destruction back, to unfold a new attitude a worldwide adjustment toward saving others by leading us in establishing a quality of life for all. Children should never be homeless, refugees, nor killed or wounded in Wars.
    Name calling without any power to prosecute by now we all know these retail sellers of corruption are around every corner in every store large retail to small, traded in markets around the world, Cancer is the commodity most traded in Pesticides, Medicines, Chemicals, Radiation Exposure, Sugary products, Vaping, Smoking, in liquor stores, from gun shops, fairs and markets, whatever kills us, is how the Stock Markets work, Our Own Big Pharma absolutely Killing our Youth! By the cruelty and greed at the hands of Dr’s as well. Believe this could happen reverse gravity so to speak we award prizes for the highest of those who have developed every educational topic rearranging the Earth’s blueprints, which have taken their lifetimes in the results that we should understand more deeply. The heartbeat of nature begins Recognizing the value of local and traditional knowledge and respecting indigenous cultures is key sincere is here now with total dedicated with an incredible feeling of being connected since knowing where the ultimate powers are coming from are fueling these plans!
    How do we do this? I think a blend of incentives for the artists. Music art and expression are what we have found entertainment for many find inspiration in and now I find it has become a SERVICE to mankind that would make for a good blend for Public Appeal. Through Design we can envision the Future working with Creators in Classrooms, on Debate Stages. When something touches your heart and emotions and can tap into compassion and harmony the word “love” becomes more common and less the domain of the religious and romantics. Seeping into the idiosyncrasies of the good the humane to part the hugely wide cracks to penetrate minds and hearts re-script Centuries of protocol. The Scope of not only reaching peaceful solutions to all the battles still raging on, but also to understand these lines that have been falsely drawn between life plus there-after is gone! Proving there is only One Plateau that we all share together by Inheritance and Traits.
    Incredibly, Nobel Prize Laureates have come from many walks of life from many countries around our Globe. Forums of Nobel Bodies of Past as well Future Laureates have the truths we are seeking so badly, has to be a way with all the communication channels to involve those who hold all the answers for a better world. FORUMS: To save lives in Medicine, Chemistry, Economy, how could we get them to create this Peace Map emphasize the need for a Victims Corporation. Better everyone’s Economy, Physiology, Earth Sciences, and Peace. Thirty-one Countries have been awarded the Nobel Prize…Through imagination as our guide, our Contacts, Writing, our Skills, Professions that have been personally Built, Activists, Actors, Musicians, as with the beautifully talented Ariana Grande as well so many Survivors! To have witnessed unreasonable bloodshed! Knowing all they could wish for is Hope for Our Island Planet this is what they want for the world they live in and by joining all Great Organizations fighting for each of their PLATFORMS, can join together, leaders especially the candidates running for office all have the ideas we want, with this effort we could teach a new way that further’s our understanding of the loss of life.
    Having gone so far, as finding the copy of the building itself, that if possible, Columbine High School could be remodeled after, if we could picture Laureates of every subject holding open forums, survivors of horrors with class action law suits will be able to change laws. Along with a simple message: NO REASONS TO TAKE A LIFE
    Permission to take copies of this to delete or edit what you want to talk about, add what you feel comfortable with. Consider the conversation with Groups, Churches, Radio Pod Casts, Interviews, Videos, TED Talks, whatever the Core Instrument used in your own platforms Incorporate. We have parties for every reason inviting our friends, family into our homes etc. there is no better reason to print this out, Sing it, Preach it, Teach it, Speak it Write it most of all Sharing as Spike Lee, says “ Do The Right Thing “ which does not take any particular party affiliate! Asking that we put in practice what we preach, Spread the Encouragement to knowing that we can touch the Sky it is not empty it is way too full..
    I am waiting to hear back from Frank DeAngelis @FrankDiane72 or @COJasonGlass Jason Glass is the Superintendent & Chief Learner for @JeffcoSchoolsCo perhaps they need to know that there is more interest knowing that protesting does not work we need a place to generate our dissent by the billions of lives affected by all the means devastating us with.


  2. Pingback: The New Education: Finding ways to smile in hard times–Diary of a Teacher During the Coronavirus Crisis, Entry #4 – I AM AN EDUCATOR

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