During this time of school closures, it’s important to remember that half of our students across America are from families that are considered low income. Some parents may have lost their income, and some continue to work while their children are expected to stay at home, leaving lots of parents strapped for childcare. Oftentimes, low income parents are just trying to get through the day in order to provide for their children. This is considered survival mode. In this state of being, there is no time to think about the future or to create future plans or to add more things to do to their day. When you’re in survival mode you’re thinking about just trying to get through one day at a time.
During these COVID-19 school closures, it would be important to take some time to reach out to parents in survival mode to help them see that there are things that can be done to support them in managing their day-to-day. Adding new technology skills to their daily lives may not be possible, as it requires a computer, the internet, a comfort level with online practices and much more.
Prioritize for Peace of Mind
Prioritizing activities for the day first thing in the morning will help families realize that they can grab hold of their current life experiences. This is the first step for families to do in order to have peace of mind. If families can prioritize their top 3 daily activities, they will see that they can plan out their week or longer. This will give them a sense of strength and control of their lives, which will encourage them to plan for the future.
Don’t Underestimate Family Time
Families living in survival mode shouldn’t underestimate the power of family time. Spending time with loved ones gives parents and children a chance to bond and experience life together. Families can read bilingual books with their children. This will help English Learner (EL) families better understand English by reading books in their native language. Additionally, this will help their children retain their native language and family connections. Learning English as a family and spending time together helps families gain a sense of purpose and feel that they can thrive in their new environment. If schools are in a position to provide a small home library of bilingual books, worksheets, and workbooks to their English learners, it would be extremely helpful.
Set Small Goals
Families living in survival mode may feel overwhelmed each day. Talk to parents and let them know that you understand their sentiments, and offer encouragement and words of support. Encourage families to set small goals that can be achieved. When they achieve the small goals they set, they will feel better about themselves and they will realize that if they can reach small goals they can reach other goals they set in life, too.
For more information on working with Latino and immigrant families, visit the Latino Family Literacy Project. We offer an array of resources and information that teachers and parents can use in the classroom and at home. Additionally, we offer webinars and in-person workshops to better prepare teachers to work with Latino and immigrant children and their parents.