Navigating teaching while parenting: the endless test of patience!

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Abby Keenley, Writer

Teachers and parents all across the country are struggling to juggle teaching their kids in a time of extreme uncertainty and the many challenges that come with a global pandemic. 

This job is made far more difficult for teachers who are also parents of kids in distance learning.

“Teaching with children at home is crazy. It is essentially trying to do two full time jobs at once — teach students and homeschool your children,” Jennifer Diaz, language department chair and spanish teacher, said. 

With two kids, ages 10 and 12, Diaz has been simultaneously parenting and teaching her students. With her husband in a meeting, Diaz teaching class, her son taking a standardized test and her daughter in a two-hour orchestra class, her home has been a flurry of constantly moving parts. 

“There have been many moments when I just sit back and laugh at the absurdity of it all. However, I am grateful that we can all be together. We are lucky that both my husband and I are employed and my kids are healthy and learning,” she said.

Teachers have had to get creative not just with how they teach their classes, but with keeping their kids entertained and having fun, especially during the summer.

“I bought a little blow-up swimming pool, it was worth every cent,” Paul McCarthy, math teacher, said. “We’d play outside in the summer. I also got them bearded dragons, who started out very little and got up to a foot long! The kids care for them and it gives them a little distraction. I’ve been backyard camping with my kids — we pitch the tent and sit around the firepit with s’mores and hot chocolate.” 

With twins, one girl and one boy, in fourth grade, McCarthy has shared his realizations that distance learning has been hard on students, teachers and parents alike, especially when teachers are also parents.

“I found out in the spring, that I’m a good math teacher but a hopeless homeschool teacher. It didn’t work very well at all. For those who have kids, to try and balance that, help them be successful and do my own work, it’s difficult,” he said. 

Being socially distanced, physically and emotionally, is pretty difficult. For young kids especially, not being able to hug their friends or spend time with them can be equally saddening and exasperating.

“With my daughter, I’ve been her punching bag. I finally got her one for the living room, she loves it! It helps her get some of that frustration out that we all feel from time to time,” McCarthy said, laughing.