A seven-year-old student at Sheridan School in D.C. writes how he's feeling on a post-it note: "Something I'm worrying about is not seeing [my] cousins. Holidays not [the] same."

A seven-year-old student at Sheridan School in D.C. writes how he's feeling on a post-it note: "Something I'm worrying about is not seeing [my] cousins. Holidays not [the] same."

As we approach month nine of the pandemic in our strange new world, how are the parents doing? And how are their kids doing with virtual learning?

Like everything in 2020, it’s not easy, nothing is anymore, and as a recent Vox article notes, the parental burnout crisis has reached a tipping point. So what are some parenting tips that can help you through these unprecedented times? And what’s the best way to assist your kids academically, and perhaps more importantly, what’s the best way to support their mental health?

We’ll talk with a panel of experts that bring their own unique perspectives to the challenges many of us face.

Produced by Kurt Gardinier


  • Paige Trevor Certified Parent Educator and Coach, Founder, Balancing Act; @BalancingAct_DC
  • Kathy Segmuller Executive Director, Huntington Learning Center; @HLCAlexandriaVA
  • Phyllis Fagell Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor, Certified Professional School Counselor, Journalist and Author of "Middle School Matters"; @Pfagell


  • 12:00:18

    KOJO NNAMDIYou're tuned in to The Kojo Nnamdi Show on WAMU 88.5. Welcome. As we approach month nine of the pandemic in this strange new world of ours, how is everyone doing? How are parents doing? And how are kids doing with virtual learning? Like everything in 2020 it's not easy for parents or their kids. So, what are some parenting tips that can help you through these unprecedented times? And what's the best way to assist your kids academically and perhaps more importantly, what's the best way to make sure they're doing okay mentally.

  • 12:00:50

    KOJO NNAMDILet's talk about it. Are you struggling with parenting during the pandemic? Joining us now is Paige Trevor, a Certified Parent Educator and Coach and the Founder of Balancing Act, a professional organizing company. Paige Trevor, thank you for joining us again.

  • 12:01:05

    PAIGE TREVORThank you for having me.

  • 12:01:06

    NNAMDIAs a parent, educator and coach, how have you been helping parents during these difficult and stressful times?

  • 12:01:15

    TREVORYeah, so parents are so overwhelmed and tired at this point. And I've been doing lots of talks for businesses talking about anxiety, talking about overwhelm and doing one on one coaching helping parents really navigate how to help their own kid. I found with the e-learning, a lot of times in families, kids are sort of either really thriving in e-learning or they're really struggling in e-learning. So, those polar opposites are really happening for parents and are hard to navigate.

  • 12:01:44

    NNAMDIWhat are some of the common concerns maybe besides those? Maybe questions or concerns you've been hearing from parents lately?

  • 12:01:51

    TREVORA lot about screens, what's a good screen limit, how can I uphold it? A lot of concern about their socialization, how much, you know, how much they're missing out on if they don't have a lot friends around or in their pod.

  • 12:02:07

    NNAMDI800-433-8850. How is virtual school going for your children? Are they where they should be academically? Give us a call 800-433-8850. Paige Trevor, what are things that parents can do to reduce their child's stress and anxiety?

  • 12:02:25

    TREVORYeah, so kids really -- their stress and anxiety can be reduced a lot by play. And so, parents often think that they first should do the work and then do the play. But kids are going to come to you and they're going to want your one on one attention and how we're going to lower their anxiety is by listening to them and playing with them. And Julie Morgenstern who is also a professional organizer wrote a book about parenting and has this great research based tip about relating to kids. And what kids really need is about one minute per age of the kid, a few times a day, where we dive into their world.

  • 12:03:00

    TREVORSo, that means with a four year old three times a day for four or five minutes you get down on the ground and play cards with them. With a teenager, one or twice a day, you spend 15 minutes listening to what they want to talk about, maybe the plotline of a book or a video game that you may not particularly like, but they want to share with you. And those are real ways to reduce anxiety.

  • 12:03:22

    NNAMDIAlso joining us now is Phyllis Fagell, a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor at the Sheridan School in Northwest Washington, a Journalist and the Author of "Middle School Matters." Phyllis Fagell, thank you for joining us.

  • 12:03:35

    PHYLLIS FAGELLThank you for having me.

  • 12:03:37

    NNAMDIAs I said, you're a school counselor at the private Sheridan School in D.C., which is using a hybrid model. So, you're seeing students both in person and online. How are the students doing and what are they struggling with?

  • 12:03:50

    FAGELLI think what Paige said about that sensitivity that kids are feeling and the difficulty staying organized, I'm seeing that almost universally. And it doesn't matter if it is a first grader or an eighth grader. There are so many additional executive demands on them in terms of their functioning. And then they're trying to socialize either through a mask and in-person, which is hard enough to read social cues if you're a child and you're still learning those skills and they're distanced. And there are some kids who cannot come to school for either medical or personal reasons. And so, they are simulcasting while other kids are in the building.

  • 12:04:25

    FAGELLAnd I think I'm seeing more fear of missing out, more jealousy on both ends. Kids feeling like they wish they had a puppy, like, their friend or they were in a pod like their friend. And a lot of concern that when things return to normal, perhaps they won't have the same friends that they had when all of this started.

  • 12:04:43

    NNAMDI800-433-8850. We're discussing how parenting is going nine months into our strange new world. Are you struggling with parenting during the pandemic? Give us a call, 800-433-8850. Phyllis Fagell, what are your strategies to help kids that are struggling with those issues?

  • 12:05:00

    FAGELLIt can be counterintuitive at times, but much like Paige said, start with play. We want to start by playing to kid strengths, focusing at what they're good at and what comes a little bit more easily to them. About 80 percent of the time right now competence and feeling competent is such a huge part of resilience. And kids are feeling incredibly out of control and insecure. And they actually perform worse when they don't feel like they have it all together.

  • 12:05:26

    FAGELLSo, we want to be doing what we can to set kids up for success, to help them with scaffolding whether we're giving them checklists to figure out what work they need to do. Whether we're having them put power thoughts on the wall and compliments about themselves so when they start hearing those self-critical voices, they can go read these other comments that they've made that are more positive. As parents, we can be the calm in the storm. Kids do catch our calm. Lots of research shows that emotions spread through a social network. So, we need to be that calm presence even when we're not feeling it ourselves. And it is okay to say to your child, you know, I'm feeling really stressed right now and I need to take a breath. I think that's really powerful modeling to do for your child.

  • 12:06:07

    FAGELLAnd then the most important thing to do especially as kids go through what is undoubtedly a trauma for everyone it will impact kids in different ways, but to try to avoid judgement and criticism. To try to start from a place of, what do you need? How can I help you? I'm just checking in. And maybe letting some of the smaller battles go and letting the school handle some of that homework conflict and letting home be a peaceful place.

  • 12:06:34

    NNAMDIPaige Trevor, how have you been advising your clients when it comes to their children's virtual learning?

  • 12:06:40

    TREVORYeah. So, what Phyllis said is that we're really the parents and a lot of times kids will accept coaching from almost anybody else except their parents, and so if it works for you great. I say, you know, dive in there and interact with your kids over school. But if it's tearing the relationship, if there's a lot of conflict, if there's a lot of power struggles, I always say back off. Create a routine to check in with your child. So, for little kids, you know, first, second, third grade check in every couple of days. For a teenager, you could check in once a week about how it's going, what schoolwork is undone, what schoolwork is complete, what's working well and what's not working well. And really stand in the spot of I'm here to uphold routines. I'm here to create a safe space where we help each other keep emotions in a range where we're able to learn.

  • 12:07:36

    NNAMDIJoining us now is Kathy Segmuller, the Executive Director of the Huntington Learning Center in Alexandria. Kathy Segmuller, thank you for joining us.

  • 12:07:45

    KATHY SEGMULLERThank you for having me.

  • 12:07:47

    NNAMDIHow would you evaluate the students that you're tutoring? Is there a struggle across the board, across all age groups?

  • 12:07:55

    SEGMULLERYeah, I would mimic a lot of what Paige said. I think there's a polarization between kids that are managing the virtual platform very well and successfully on the academic side and those that are really struggling. It either works or it doesn't depending on the child. So that's what I'm seeing the most of. And, of course, absolutely for all the age groups, the lack of socialization and the ability to move through the necessary developmental stages is being prohibited, because they are at home learning. So, I just think there's a lot involved in all of it that does impact their academics.

  • 12:08:32

    NNAMDILet's take a step back. And if you've called stay on the line. We will get to your calls. The number is 800-433-8850. Kathy Segmuller, let's take a step back. Walk us through the tutoring process at the Huntington Learning Center. How does it typically work?

  • 12:08:48

    SEGMULLERSo, it depends on what the parent is searching for. We do three -- we either skill build, so if your student is lacking in the areas of reading, writing, math, executive functioning, if there is some need for remediation, we'll do an academic assessment to see where the student is, see where their confidence is with the -- and competence is with a certain skill area, motivation, frustration levels as well as the skills. And then we'll design a program for each student that's very individualized and meet with the parent.

  • 12:09:18

    SEGMULLERYou may have a student that's just struggling in a particular subject. So, we'll do subject tutoring. So, we have a student that's taking calculus or AP history and the parents feel like they just need some reinforcement, we'll work with them directly with what's happening in school. Or we have a lot of kids that are preparing for the ACT and SAT. So, we also focus on exam prep. We involve the parents. We work very individually with the student. And will also reach out to the teachers, of course, now we're reaching out virtually via Zoom and the classrooms to give us feedback as to ways that we could help the kids as well.

  • 12:09:52

    NNAMDIHere now is Gabby in Rockville, Maryland. Gabby, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 12:09:59

    GABBYHi. I am an educator for MCPS. I teach high school. I also am a parent of two high schoolers. One of them is thriving. He's a senior. And one of them is a ninth grader, who is not thriving. She is currently in the hospital for attempted suicide. So, my question is, what do you suggest? I mean, we have tried to get into DBT therapy. They're all booked up. We're on wait lists now. We're sitting here in a holding pattern at the hospital. She's been here for two days waiting to get into a program. So, what other options do you suggest to parents when everything that is out there for help is consumed and I don't know where to go?

  • 12:10:40

    NNAMDIPhyllis Fagell.

  • 12:10:42

    FAGELLSo that is such a tricky challenge. And, unfortunately, it's more common right now. It's really hard to get a bed in the hospital and then it's really hard to get help when you're released from the hospital. There are some therapeutic schools. There are some alternative schools that allow you to work virtually, but checking in a little bit more often almost one on one. But, of course, all of those kinds of programs cost money and there are limited beds there as well. And so, I think the first thing you want to do is make sure that you are tapping all of your resources and whoever you can talk to to get referrals to a good psychiatrist, a good therapist, somebody who can continue to work with your child.

  • 12:11:23

    FAGELLOne of the challenges right now for students and for parents is that they normally have far more eyes on the ground. So, they might be able to go to a teacher that they trust for help. They might be able to talk to an advisor or a school counselor or a favorite P.E. coach or somebody else in their life. And right now, there's a lot of pressure on parents to be everything for everyone and it's really easy for struggling kids to fall through the cracks. I've been urging parents to ask your child when you're not in crisis, when they're not in crisis, who would you go to for help if you needed it?

  • 12:11:58

    NNAMDIGot to take a short break. Gabby, thank you very much for your call. And good luck to you. If you'd like to call, the number is 800-433-8850. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.

  • 12:12:48

    NNAMDIWelcome to back. We're discussing parenting eight or nine months into our strange new world and taking your calls at 800-433-8850. Are you a teacher teaching your students virtually? How is it going? Are you struggling with parenting during this pandemic? We'd like to hear from you 800-433-8850.

  • 12:13:09

    NNAMDIWe're talking with Paige Trevor, a Certified parent Educator and Coach and the Founder of Balancing Act, a professional organizing company. Phyllis Fagell is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor at the Sheridan School in Northwest D.C., a journalist and the Author of "Middle School Matters." And Kathy Segmuller is the Executive Director at the Huntington Learning Center in Alexandria. Let's go to Amy in Springfield, Virginia. Amy, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 12:13:39

    AMYHi, Kojo. Thank you for this program. I love your show in general. I'm a licensed clinical social worker and my area of expertise is in attachment and trauma in children. And I wanted to offer and additional comment to what one of your speakers stated about spending numbers of minutes with a child based on their age. That's a wonderful idea. I completely endorse it, and additionally from the attachment perspective there's this rule of thumb that's really easy to remember, twenty minutes a day of child directed play.

  • 12:14:12

    AMYAnd when our caregivers, when our parents can do this with our kids, it enhances their attachments. It enhances their trust in their caregivers and sets them up for healthy relationships in the future. In addition, I just also wanted to say I'm working with a lot of parents, who are really struggling with patience with their children right now, because the parents, of course, are teacher, parent, worker, you know, and still maintaining their homes and hopefully sanity.

  • 12:14:43

    AMYAnd one of the things that I've been encouraging the parents of the kiddos that I work with to do when they're noticing annoyance or a behavior in their child that's annoying or kind of disruptive just to ask the parent to take a breath. Step back and ask themselves, is this a small, medium or a large deal? And if it's small, for now just let it go. The kids are stressed out. The parents are stressed out. And we've just kind of got to pick and choose our battles and make room for errors.

  • 12:15:16

    NNAMDIPaige Trevor, what do you think about that?

  • 12:15:19

    TREVOROh, yeah, I think that's absolutely right. And I think when parents are under stress it's really hard to differentiate between the small, medium and big. I found when we gather groups of parents, you know, in ways online and we can get together and hear that all these problems are universal. And we also hear that we're good at some stuff and another parent is good at other stuff it can really help lighten the load. I think a sense of humor is something that kids really respond to too. So, plumping that up in your life with your kid is another way to create a little bit more stress relief.

  • 12:16:00

    NNAMDIWell, we got a tweet from Carla Jean who writes, "Please, let's talk about the heightened anxiety of co-parenting or switching houses with a hostile ex during the pandemic." I don't know how much you have heard about that Phyllis Fagell, but care to comment.

  • 12:16:16

    FAGELLYou know, it's interesting. It comes up in different ways. I had talked to a student, who had divorced parents and in one home they were comfortable using the video camera and in the other one they weren't. And they weren't sure how to explain that to the teacher. It's also come up in the sense that it's harder to stay organized as it is when you have COVID brain and you're working virtually or you're trying to manage multiple classes online and you're traveling back and forth, and you need to remember all of your supplies.

  • 12:16:46

    FAGELLSo, I think what we need to do as parents and it's very similar to the whole take a break so that they can catch your calm is to do whatever we can to shield our kids from the big problems that they can't solve and that only are going to get in the way of their own functioning. And that's easier said than done. But to have as many of those conversations behind the scenes and to ask your child is there anything I can help with? Is this working for you? Do you have any questions?

  • 12:17:14

    FAGELLOften kids have questions, and they don't want to ask, or they don't want to burden the parent. They're not going to burden a parent, who they think isn't at their peak already. So, we have to be very transparent that, even if we're struggling ourselves, we're still capable of listening to and absorbing their problems too.

  • 12:17:30

    NNAMDIKathy Segmuller, at the Huntington Learning Center in Alexandria, you're offering both in-person tutoring and virtual. Are you seeing more a demand for virtual as COVID cases rise?

  • 12:17:43

    SEGMULLERWe have not. We had originally when this all started, we had a much heavier virtual platform. But I'm finding parents are becoming more comfortable with coming into the center even with the numbers on the rise, because I think they are looking for some type of diversity in the day. You know that the kids can step outside the house and still have some brick and mortar instruction. So, right now, we are not seeing a decrease in interest. And it will be interested to see how that goes as the numbers continue to rise.

  • 12:18:16

    SEGMULLERWe at the same time are practicing extremely strong safety protocols to ensure that everybody when they're in the center are safe. But, of course, the parents have either choice, and both platforms are working well for the children.

  • 12:18:30

    NNAMDIHere is Valerie in Germantown, Maryland. Valerie, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 12:18:36

    VALERIEHi. Yeah, I just wanted to call in and comment on, you know, we often hear so much about how much teaching at home with children is impacting the teachers, which it totally is. It's definitely impacting parents at home trying to work, too. But I just have to mention my husband, who's also being greatly impacted in his career and his job and, you know, he's kind of taking on the responsibility and role of taking care of the children so I'm able to teach all day long and sacrificing, you know, his time and sleep by waking up early in the morning or, you know, working late at night when the children are asleep.

  • 12:19:16

    VALERIESo, you know, the situation is not just affecting the parenting and the teachers parenting, but, you know, everybody in the household. So, I just wanted to throw that comment out there and share my experience, as well.

  • 12:19:28

    NNAMDIPaige Trevor, care to comment?

  • 12:19:31

    TREVORYeah. I mean, people are really pulling out every bit of energy they have to take care of their kids in the best way. And that's something I've really noticed, is parents are really, really, really putting in so much effort, knowing that this is just hard for everybody.

  • 12:19:47

    NNAMDI800-433-8850 is the number to call. Will your kids be ready for their next grade, come September? Are you a teacher teaching your students virtually? Give us a call and tell us how it's going at 800-433-8850. You can send us a tweet @kojoshow or email to Kojo@wamu.org. Paige Trevor, for someone who does not need or cannot afford tutoring, what are some of the free resources available to parents and students?

  • 12:20:17

    TREVOROh, well, you know, there's parenting resources with an organization in Kensington, Maryland. It's called PEP, and it's pepparent.org. And they have free parenting classes and on-demand classes about all sorts of things, anxiety in kids, you know, helping set yourself up for success with school and work from home, and all sorts of things like that.

  • 12:20:41

    TREVORThere's another resource called Pandemic Parenting that's also free, and it's two psychologists that are doing in-time research and offering free webinars for parents about all sorts of topics, like how to manage the holiday season. In terms of academics, I would pass that to Phyllis.

  • 12:21:02

    NNAMDIBefore we do that, you mentioned PEP. That sounds like an acronym. What does the acronym stand for?

  • 12:21:06

    TREVORYeah. It's the Parent Encouragement Program, and it's an organization that's been around about 40 years, helping parents. And they moved online right before the pandemic, so now they've got all sorts of resources.

  • 12:21:19

    NNAMDIOh, cool. Phyllis Fagell, what are some free or affordable resources for low-income families to help assist them with their children's education?

  • 12:21:27

    FAGELLWhat I'm hearing across the board -- not necessarily in independent schools, but in public schools, as well -- is that when teachers are offering open office hours to have extra help, that kids are not necessarily taking advantage of those times that they can go visit with their teachers. And a parent can reach out to the school and ask a teacher to invite their child to one of those sessions. It's very unusual for a child, on their own, to just log in and choose to have that office hour time. But that's 100 percent free, and teachers are there. That is what they're doing in that time.

  • 12:21:58

    FAGELLIt's equally true for counseling services. They can reach out to their counselor and get support that way. A counselor also can help tell their story to the teachers, explain what's getting in their way, they'll have empathy for what the child's going through, maybe help communicate their needs to those teachers and not shy away from asking the school for that support.

  • 12:22:21

    NNAMDIKathy Segmuller, private tutoring is not cheap, so what do you recommend to parents who can't afford to send their kids to learning centers such as yours?

  • 12:22:30

    SEGMULLERSo, I offer two pieces of advice. First is, absolutely reach out to the school, and particularly the school counselors. Often, they know of opportunities that are being offered in the community that can help out, and what's being offered within the school. In addition, as mentioned by Phyllis, there are a lot of office hours that teachers are providing that are being underutilized that can be a good resource for those that feel they can't afford tutoring.

  • 12:22:57

    SEGMULLERI also often tell parents, don't immediately feel like you can't afford a learning center. We have a lot of different opportunities for payment and, you know, I always want to make sure every child gets the best education possible. So, it's always worth a call or at least a visit into the center to have a conversation and talk to them about what opportunities we may have available to their student.

  • 12:23:18

    NNAMDIHere now is Jason in Falls Church, Virginia. Jason, your turn.

  • 12:23:23

    JASONThanks for having me, Kojo. And thank you so much to your guests for opening and keeping an open center where kids can go. Because I've worked with children with autism as a therapist for several years now. And the kids are being very, very affected by it, because they don't understand what's going on. And it just feels especially capricious, because children aren't affected by this virus pretty much at all, and they're not really transmitting. And we've known that since July. We've known that for a long time, and yet we continue to punish them and not let them hand out with friends and not let them go to school.

  • 12:24:02

    JASONAnd it's just causing all kinds of issues behavioral. There's lots of kids that are facing depression and anxiety at ages when depression and anxiety shouldn't be even something they understand the concept of. And I feel like it's because we're constantly having them do things that they don't understand for reasons that don't actually help. It would be one thing if children were greatly affected by this, like with the seasonal flu. There are a lot of children who do die and suffer from that, but this has been shown, fortunately, not to affect children.

  • 12:24:37

    JASONAnd yet we're punishing them -- because it feels like -- for political reasons. And it makes me sad that we're locking them away, and the ramifications...

  • 12:24:47

    NNAMDIOkay. We don't have a lot of time left and I'll get a response. But before we go, what do you mean that it seems like we're doing it for political reasons?

  • 12:24:56

    JASONI feel like in order to damage the president and to damage the country as much, because when kids can't go to school, when kids can't go to a learning center...

  • 12:25:08


  • 12:25:09

    JASON...when they shut those things down. People cannot go to work.

  • 12:25:14

    NNAMDIOkay. Got to take a short break. My question would be, why would people want to damage the country? But we'll get a response to your issue when we come back. Thank you for your call. 800-433-8850 is the number for you to call. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.

  • 12:25:44

    NNAMDIWelcome back. We're talking about parenting more than eight months into our strange new world of the pandemic. We're talking with Paige Trevor, a certified parent educator and coach and the founder of Balancing Act, a professional organizing company. Kathy Segmuller is the executive director at the Huntington Learning Center in Alexandria. And Phyllis Fagell is a licensed clinical professional counselor at the Sheridan School in Northwest Washington, a journalist and the author of "Middle School Matters."

  • 12:26:12

    NNAMDIPhyllis Fagell, before we took that break, our last caller -- let's put aside his politics for a second -- was essentially making the point that since young people, kids are not as adversely affected by COVID-19 as adults are, then adults are being unfair by restricting them ways that they don't need necessarily to be restricted to protect themselves. Before you respond, Phyllis Fagell, we got a tweet from Hannah, who says: That last caller needs to educate himself. And then she shared this FOX 5 article. D.C. schools and daycares account for the majority of COVID-19 outbreaks, according to data. Now you, Phyllis Fagell.

  • 12:26:53

    FAGELLSo, I am going to skirt the political piece of this and talk about what we can do to build both kids' and their parents' resiliency in the face of a situation that is out of our control. So, we as parents -- and this is true for our kids, as well -- they don't get the final say in whether they're in school virtually or they're in school in person or in a hybrid program. And when they return to school, they won't get a say, necessarily, in which cohort they're in. There's a lot that's out of their control.

  • 12:27:21

    FAGELLAnd there's a concept called radical acceptance. And that doesn't mean that you like the current reality. It means you accept that there is a piece of this that you don't like, and you start to focus on the stuff that you can control. Because if you're caught up in feeling angry, if you're caught up in recycling all of the arguments and it's not going to make a difference, that is energy that might be better devoted to figuring out what your kids' emotional needs are and what you need to make this time period work.

  • 12:27:49

    FAGELLWhether it's more tutoring, whether it's pairing them up with an older buddy who can play outside with them, because they won't get off the couch. Whether it's reaching out to the school to find out if there are brief structured social activities where they can connect with other kids, particularly if they're struggling with social skills. But I really want people to use their energy to focus on the things they care about that are in their control.

  • 12:28:10

    NNAMDIPaige Trevor, a lot of parents are struggling to help their kids with managing a complicated schedule of online classes and due dates, confusing homework, and it's been a huge source of stress for both. What's your advice? How can we help kids be problem-solvers?

  • 12:28:26

    TREVORYeah, helping kids be problem-solvers, I think, is one of a parent's main jobs. And I think that maintaining a routine is important and, I think, mimicking some of the stuff they have in school. So, investing in, you know, a big wall calendar and investing in some sticky notes and things that kids can use, and then handing it over to them to say, okay, here's your agenda for the week and the homework. Now, you write it on the calendar, and let's put some sticky notes down about, you know, when you need the rough draft and when you need the final draft done.

  • 12:29:01

    TREVORAnd working with them as their assistant rather than figuring it out for them is a great way for kids to start figuring out their own organizational routine. And really being okay with mistakes. Having the courage to make mistakes and realizing that a C, maybe, during a pandemic is -- we can give that a bump up, as long as they showed up and put some effort into it.

  • 12:29:25

    NNAMDIBut you know parental instincts, while the advice not to be your kid's teacher is good, but when your kid's unable to figure out his online schedule or is in tears over math homework, it's sometimes tough not to step in. What then?

  • 12:29:41

    TREVOROh, absolutely. Well, I think stepping in as a parent is different than stepping in as somebody who's going to solve the problem. So, what I'm talking about is, it's not that you avoid it. It's that you are someone who listens rather than somebody who swoops right in and figures it out for them, and you're somebody who's empathetic. And I think kids are lacking in soft skills these days. So, emailing a teacher or setting up a Zoom call with a teacher. And parents can really help kids focus on those things, rather than just the grade. And I think those are skills that last a lifetime, that can be useful.

  • 12:30:17

    NNAMDIWe heard from Ryan in Fairfax who called, but couldn't stay on the line, who said: I work closely with the Virginia Department of Health. Kids may not get the disease as easily as adults, but they can definitely spread and pass on the disease. And here is Mark, in Virginia. Mark, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 12:30:35

    MARKHi, Kojo. I have a unique situation in our family where my nephew, who's in the 11th grade, went back to school, contracted it, was asymptomatic and then brought it home to his parents, who became symptomatic. I think there's definite disadvantage sending children back to school, as far as them brining the disease home.

  • 12:31:00

    MARKYou know, also, during the 2018 epidemic -- I mean, the 1918 epidemic, from what I've read, it became a patriotic duty to wear a mask. And today, we seem more focused on saying that a mask infringes on personal liberties. And I couldn't disagree more. I think it's a patriotic duty to wear a mask these days. Thanks. That's it.

  • 12:31:29

    NNAMDIWell, we heard what the governor of Maryland said, wear the damn mask. Here we go to Philip, in Delaware. Philip, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 12:31:38

    PHILIPHi, Kojo. How are you?

  • 12:31:39

    NNAMDIDoing well.

  • 12:31:40

    PHILIPI'm probably an unusual caller. I'm calling you because I'm angry and I'm scared out of my mind. I'm tired of all of these professionals talking about taking care of kids, like all you do is email a teacher or call a local association, all of that stuff. Let me tell you something. I've got seven grandkids. One of them is a freshman in a big deal charter school in Delaware. Almost a straight-A student from K to 8. In her freshman year in high school, she has just failed three courses. She is traumatized. Her friends are traumatized. Her teachers are traumatized.

  • 12:32:20

    PHILIPI've got a granddaughter who's dropped out of college. It's time for all of these professionals, including those people you have there, to get realistic and realize this isn't something where these kids are going to get better or get over it. They're never going to get back this time. And God knows if they're going to be healthy as we go on.

  • 12:32:39

    PHILIPI don't know what the answer is. I served many years on the school board. I was on the New Jersey Department of Ethics for education. I've been involved in education. It's a God-awful problem, but I know that all of these professionals who are talking about just do this or just do that haven't been really tested. And something has to be done for the thousands and millions of kids that are going down the toilet. And that's exactly where they're going. So, I'm angry, and I'm just scared to death. I don't know what they have to say, but I'm tired of their euphemistic statements. Get real, folks. Get real.

  • 12:33:18

    NNAMDIKathy Segmuller, do you think that the professionals are not being real? How would you respond to a clearly angry Philip?

  • 12:33:28

    SEGMULLERI think there's absolutely a worry for grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, everybody involved in children's lives about the academic outcome of possibly over a year outside the traditional learning environment. So, those concerns are real and, you know, that's why we are focusing on tutoring and making sure kids can fill the gaps or maintain where they are. As everybody is doing everything they can, from teachers' standpoint, to provide what can happen on a virtual format.

  • 12:34:02

    SEGMULLERSo, I do believe we, as professionals, see it as a real concern and certainly want to support the academic side of it. To his point, the kids are also suffering developmentally because, you know, kids in high school usually really seek autonomy. And it's very hard for that to happen when you're at home and not following the traditional path that you would going to school, doing your after-school activities and everything like that.

  • 12:34:28

    SEGMULLERSo, certainly, there's going to be a fallout to all of this, but there's just -- there aren't -- it's not as easy to solve the problem as people sometimes think. You now, we have to put the safety of the kids first. We have to put the safety of the professionals first. And then we absolutely have to provide an opportunity for kids to get what they need, academically.

  • 12:34:52

    SEGMULLERSo, yeah, I agree, there's going to be an academic fallout, for sure. And there has to be a focus on academics now, so that the kids don't suffer as much when they go back to school. Equally, we have to balance their social needs and their emotional needs. And it's very complicated.

  • 12:35:07

    NNAMDIPhyllis Fagell, how may living through this pandemic as a child be positive for kids later in life?

  • 12:35:15

    FAGELLSo, there is some research showing that kids, young adults who have to live through a period of uncertainty, like graduating in a recession, actually have more gratitude, joy and satisfaction later in life. I haven't been calling it a silver lining. I've been calling it more of a shades of gray, and I say this as three e-learning kids myself. So, I'm a realist. I do think there will be both an emotional and academic fallout. I think it's a lot easier to make up for lost academic ground than it is to fix a broken child. And so, we do need to be attending to our kids' emotional needs.

  • 12:35:50

    FAGELLAnd going back to that whole idea of emotion contagion, we have to do what we need to do to take care of ourselves, as well. Our kids are only going to do as well as we do.

  • 12:36:00

    NNAMDIWell, I have to say that my father lived through the 1918 pandemic, and it may have affected his education, but he certainly was able to make up. We don't have a great deal of time left, Phyllis, so tell us, as quickly as you can, who is Rude Tommy?

  • 12:36:16

    FAGELLOh, so I walked into a classroom about a week or so ago, and I was teaching a class. And it's hard to teach kids who are in front of you and on the simulcast, so a mix of kids who are in person and virtually learning. And when I walked in on that particular day, there was a new huge air shutter in the classroom, and it sounded like a tornado, it was so loud. And I felt like my frustration level just couldn't get any higher. I almost felt like if anyone had given me an ounce of empathy, I would've cried.

  • 12:36:51

    FAGELLAnd, at that moment, I looked across the room and I saw an eighth grader who looked like she was about to cry. And I realized that I needed to lend her my prefrontal cortex. You know, I needed to be the calm. And, at that moment, I decided we needed to change the tone, not start teaching right away, and do something that would lighten the mood. And so, I suggested we have a contest to come up with a name for our new rude student, the air shutter. And that is Rude Tommy.

  • 12:37:18

    NNAMDINow you know how my engineer feels when he hears my space heater in the background. Thank you very much for joining us. Paige Trevor, Kathy Segmuller, Phyllis Fagell, thank you all for joining us. Today's show on parenting in the age of COVID was produced by Kurt Gardinier.

  • 12:37:33

    NNAMDIComing up tomorrow, the days are getting colder and shorter, but if you still want to be social and hang out with friends and family, you're going to have to embrace the season and get outside. Whether you're a parent, a fan of nature or a city person, we'll discuss the ways to get active outdoors, despite colder temperatures. That all starts tomorrow, at noon. Until then, thank you for listening and stay safe. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.

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