When D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) and Schools Chancellor Lewis D. Ferebee announced that D.C. Public Schools classes would not resume for 40 days, friends asked for ideas to help home-school their own children. As a high school teacher, I shared some online resources and also recommended exploring more project-based learning that takes several days or weeks to complete. 

As with many parents, my wife and I created a schedule for our boys, carving out portions of the day to work in their math or language workbooks, to exercise outside and to indulge in screen time. As most kids say, screen time is “never enough” and academic activities are not always so engaging. So what’s a parent to do? 

In this unprecedented time, with people struggling to find toilet paper, stressing over groceries and practicing social distancing, there are bigger lessons here. Discuss and plan how to ration food. Generate priority lists, discerning what are essential and what are extraneous products of consumerism. Have children write to themselves or record video messages about life in this moment. Ask them to articulate what is most valuable in life. Plant a victory garden, and allow kids to design the space while researching and determining what seeds are best suited for our climate. Curate recipes for the vegetables that will eventually be harvested and enjoyed at dinner. 

While anxiety seems to be ever present in our lives, parents can hopefully become active learners with their children, emerging with a deeper understanding of human needs.

Marc Minsker, Bethesda