Summer is winding down and the kids are heading back to school ... Well, sort of.
The COVID-19 global pandemic has changed the trajectory of how we handle personal, professional, and educational matters. Parents are faced with deciding whether to send their children back to school for possible part-time, in-class instruction or commit to distance learning from home.
The biggest hurdle for Families is finding ways to keep their kids engaged and resilient while balancing work, home, and school schedules, all while maintaining social distancing.
Nanette Pigg is no stranger to overcoming such an obstacle. As a military spouse and mom turned school program manager at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, Texas, she has spent over two decades working with school liaison officers (SLO’s) all over the world to help make the transition between installations and educational systems as smooth as possible for Army Families.
Nanette Pigg is currently working to collect data on all the installations while trying to guide school staff should they decide to provide traditional education for the upcoming school year or implement a distance learning curriculum. She is also working with Master Resilience Trainers (MRTs) to help support Families with children to maintain their resilience and connection.
Still in the planning phases for this coming school year, Nanette Pigg will be helping installations implement a safe, protected, facilitated learning environment using the support of child and youth services professionals to help kids of all ages with their studies. The goal is to provide virtual support, problem-solving techniques, and activities for kids.
MRTs will assist Nanette Pigg in implementing ready and resilient techniques and exercises like mindfulness and deliberate breathing to help kids refocus and/or stay focused during instruction.
Veronica Pigg, a second-grade teacher outside of Fort Hood, Texas, (and Nanette Pigg’s daughter), assures Families that teachers will be there to assist however they can. During the shut-down, Veronica Pigg conducted independent Zoom meetings with parents to help them assist and guide their children through the rest of the school year. Before then, parents didn’t have much access except by way of Facetime and Facebook. Veronica Pigg used that as an opportunity to connect with the Families of her students to help reassure them they had the support they needed to finish the school year successfully.
Both women understand and have witnessed firsthand the stressors that have affected Families and children since COVID-19 restrictions have been in place. They encourage Families to have open-ended conversations with their kids to let them know they can talk about how they’re feeling.
Veronica Pigg said it’s important to stick to a routine, “Have a regular bedtime. Physical activity is the best way to combat stress – find creative outlets and ways to have fun with your kids, ride bikes, go hiking, or try a new recipe. Develop a schedule or build activities into your current schedule to help burn off excess energy and anxiety.”
“Military Families rely on the community,” said Nanette Pigg. “Socialization is key. Find people to talk to. Find a new way to find a new normal.”
There are resources out there, and other military Families willing to step in and help, she said. Get involved with your local church, or Boys and Girls club; encourage your kids to join the Youth Sponsorship Program where they can connect with other youth their age. If your kids are transitioning to a new school this year, reach out to the local SLO; they know what’s going on and what’s happening with the schools in the area, she added.
“If you feel stuck or frustrated, don’t stew,” said Veronica Pigg. “Information can calm a lot of fears.”
The Fort Bragg R2 Performance Center designed an activity book to help build Ready and Resilient skills while Families are reintegrating and working from home during COVID-19. The workbook was designed to help Soldiers and Families maximize their time by building stronger connections, self-reflecting, and keeping busy in fun and productive ways.
Most R2 Performance Centers also offer Academic Performance Training skills to help parents and kids as they return to school online. Performance Experts are available to provide training for large or small groups or individual 1-on-1 sessions free of charge.