Elizabeth Reddick: Academically, learning from home works for my family. But not when it comes to our social-emotional and mental health.

January 21, 2021

My son is thriving academically by learning from home. But he and I are not thriving when it comes to our social-emotional and mental health. 

For my son, learning from home and being away from his teachers and friends has led to meltdowns outside of learning time. My son now talks about never wanting to return to school and asks why he can’t just stay with me.

For me, I’ve had to take on new responsibilities for my son to thrive academically: teacher, therapist, dedicated aide, counselor, occupational therapist, and behavioral support worker — none of which I’m qualified to be. My stress levels are dramatically increasing: everyday, I hold back tears as I try and support my son through his classes and the inevitable temper tantrums that follow.

I’m scared of news reports about the police going to homes where children aren’t completing their online learning and I fear the DC Child and Family Services Agency (CFSA) will come to my home because he is not doing enough. I live in a world based on fear of noncompliance, despite access to supports like weekly therapy and self-care like fitness, drawing and writing, and getting enough sleep.

I don’t know how to accept this new normal, from the depression, to the masks. I miss the idea of my son getting all of the benefits of school. I miss hearing about his day after school and seeing the strides he has made. I worry about his future and I worry about our today.

By Elizabeth Reddick, Ward 7 PLE Board member