Being home with my kids (4 years old and 19 months) the past 8 weeks has had us in our own little theme park…equipped with many emotional rollercoasters. We took one of my research meetings on a ride when my daughter came into my office and had a complete meltdown before nap time, but that was manageable. The steepest rollercoaster in this park is my daughter’s online learning experience, and keep in mind she’s only 4. It started just after March break when her school launched daily circle time via Zoom.
Every day I would attempt to join her class Zoom meeting so she could see her friends and sing songs. Every day for the first 3 weeks, she had tantrums 10 minutes before circle time began and let’s just say they ended well after the Zoom session would have. I found this such strange behaviour considering she would walk into my office during my Zoom meetings and sit with me and ask questions about what I was doing. I tried several strategies to help her adapt to her new online routine and the two I thought would ease her anxiety around this – sign in, turn off the camera and mute the microphone just so she could hear familiar voices singing in the background, or asking her if she wanted to sit with me and we could do it together – did not work. So we ended up doing a one-on-one Zoom call with her teacher just to fill her in on what was going on. Funny enough my daughter was engaged and wanted to show her all of the things she was doing at home. She grabbed the laptop and went on a tour of the house. After the call, my daughter asked me how to use the laptop.
Up until then, my daughter had only seen me work on the computer, and had never really learned how a computer works. Never did I think to teach her because I felt she was too young…it literally never crossed my mind. So the last few weeks we have been sitting down and I am teaching her how a computer works. She can now open up the laptop, start the Zoom application, and help me type in the Zoom room number. Who knew this new found sense of autonomy and basic knowledge of what the computer could do would be the solution to tantrum-free, and engaged circle time experience! We still have a many rollercoaster rides a day, but this one small part of our routine is much smoother now, and quite fun for her.
If this is my one big win during our time at home, then I’ll take it. It’s been really tough juggling kids, work, and school, but my one goal has been and will continue to be keeping my kids curious. Our theme park is messy, but we go with the flow and find the fun in the little things…even building a tower out of Play-doh containers!