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Everyone in David Armistead’s home is either a student or an educator. As the coronavirus pandemic has forced the six members of his family to stay home, Armistead and his wife, Susan Bennett-Armistead, juggle working remotely, teaching classes online, taking care of their children and helping them with their own remote learning.
The new normal in the family’s Bangor home entails planning who connects to the internet when and designating times when different family members use the home office. Armistead, the associate head of school at John Bapst Memorial High School, teaches Advanced Placement psychology remotely. Bennett-Armistead, an associate professor of literacy at the University of Maine, is teaching online, too.
While a schedule helps the family keep track, Armistead said it’s important for parents and students across the country to forgive themselves for not having time or resources to do it all. No set of virtual learning tools is going to recreate a classroom.
“This is a really unique situation that everybody’s in,” he said. “Take it easy on yourself. Nobody expects you to be perfect.”
It’s too early to judge the long-term impact on students from shifting learning from school buildings to their homes for what could turn out to be the remainder of the school year. It’s impossible to know because the coronavirus outbreak has created a set of unprecedented circumstances.
But the lost academic learning from this period, particularly for younger students, isn’t what parents and teachers should worry about most, said Nermeen Dashoush, an expert in early childhood education who teaches at Boston University. It’s their overall well-being.
“We have created systems where we’re getting our children ready for standardized tests and have lost track of what early childhood education really should be,” she said. “It should be about teaching them how to be together, teaching them social skills, teaching them about themselves and their emotions, teaching them about their community.”