What are your summer plans?
With so much uncertainty about this summer, we decided to check in with local parents about how they are doing and what plans they have so far. A common theme was focusing on what they can control while also acknowledging the importance of camp, preschool, libraries, public pools and other places that we have relied on for years. Local parents shared a variety of creative strategies, including setting up their own mini-summer camp, taking the family to stay with relatives for most of the summer, sharing childcare responsibilities with neighbors, and more.
Two local parents agreed to longer interviews and are highlighted below!
Shane Trudeau lives in Greenfield with his 3 year old son, Ayden. Shane is very involved in the community and has several jobs that involve supporting other community members. He is a peer leader at the RECOVER Project, works as a recovery coach, coordinates a community meals program, and co-facilitates a Nurturing Families group. Until a couple of months ago, Ayden was in preschool at the Girl’s Club. Now they are home together.
Shane has been taking advantage of the warmer weather and spending a lot of time with Ayden doing outdoor activities, such as fishing, hiking, and boating. He is often with Ayden all day without a break, because Ayden stopped napping when preschool closed (We know some readers can relate!). Juggling his multiple responsibilities is a lot of work, so Shane has been getting some childcare support from his mother and a neighbor.
Still, childcare is a big factor and it’s hard to find time and energy for everything. Shane looks forward to preschools opening up again. Like many of us, he has questions about how preschools will function with new COVID-19 protocols…Will preschoolers really keep their masks on? Will they be allowed to share toys?
Whatever the protocols are, Shane notes that childcare is essential for many people to be able to go back to work and for businesses to open up. He looks forward to being able to resume his peer leadership role in person at the RECOVER Project when it opens. In the meantime, he is working hard to support other people’s recovery during this time of increased isolation and stress.
Lesley Cogswell is a former elementary school teacher who now teaches in the UMass College of Education and supervises student teachers. She and her husband have two sons who are students in the Gill-Montague Regional School District. Jackson is 12 and Camden is almost 9, so they have been doing both middle school and 3rd grade lessons at home.
Lesley has been thinking about how to support her kids academically, socially, and emotionally this summer while keeping in mind COVID-19 precautions. Her sons are very active kids who enjoy being outdoors, so being in front of screens for schoolwork has been a challenge. One way the family addressed this was to get more printer ink and print out assignments. She is interested in how to prevent the “summer slide” for academics, and has some questions, including: What will middle school math be like after a semester that was largely online? What programs might motivate older kids to do plenty of reading over the summer?
Socially and emotionally, she is also thinking about recreation as a family. They have a camper that that they can’t use in the way they normally would, but they have plans (at their sons’ request) for the family sleep in it at home for fun. They also tried going to the Green River and maintaining distance for other families. The outing went well and their older son said it “felt almost normal,” a comment that was gratifying but sadly emblematic of these strange times.
Since both boys play baseball, they also invested in a batting cage and see that it can be put to use for socially distant fun with another family. In general, she thinks she may expand some social interactions with precautions for her kids, as long as she is present. Lesley is mindful of the importance of considering the mental health impact of social isolation on her kids and is finding ways to balance that with a lot of caution due to COVID-19.