The Shifting Role of Caregivers

The new reality created within the household by the pandemic allows for a dynamic that hasn’t existed prior to remote learning. The roles in every household have shifted according to these unprecedented times. With children at home and some family members there in whatever form as well, there is a shift no matter familial circumstances. Siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, or whoever else may be in student’s lives, have acquired a larger role during the pandemic, they have been forced to take on much more than in the past. Along with this change comes an inherent shift in actual relationships, a fascinating difference within these unprecedented times. The word caregiver seems much better suited now more than ever when referring to a student’s support system, as other parts of the family or circle of people the student has are able to step up.

Siblings have played a much different part in the household than previous school years. Whether it be making sure their brother or sister get to their Zoom on time or helping with homework that used to have been done with classmates or friends, many siblings have stepped up in unique and amazing ways. Many parents are at work or working from home and in their absence,  someone has to take their place. Those who are lucky enough, have siblings who are willing to adapt to a new role. This is an interesting shift in relationships for households across the country and something to be considered in the aftermath of the pandemic. I even see this support in the students I am currently working with, they are able to give each other help on their assignments.

Parents have also obviously had to step up in more ways than can be counted. Those who do so have been vital in the journey of remote education. They are also hopefully gaining a fuller perspective of education and just how much responsibility teachers have along the way. The teachers I have been fortunate enough to speak to have expressed hopefulness that the parents have gained a new respect for what they do and just how much work goes into everyday learning. Teachers are only able to accomplish so much through the screen and the difference needs to be made up in some other form. That difference is much more difficult to make up in some households compared to others. When parents can be of support in any way, they allow for the students to succeed under these difficult circumstances. Once again, I recognize that this is unfortunately not possible for a large number of families across the country, and this lack of support system at home only exacerbates the ever present academic gap reflect through socioeconomic statuses. 

Relationships within households are ever-changing and as we are spending an abundance of our time in homes with family, the roles continue to shift. In the context of education, the roles have become even more important, and varied, than ever. They differ drastically between families and the impact on children depends on the ability of the family to adapt. Family plays an important part of education under normal circumstances and this is amplified within the pandemic. Family dynamics are imperative when considering the impact, the pandemic has on education. Student’s help from home does not, and sometimes cannot, come from parents; caregivers come in many forms and it is thanks to these caregivers that many students are able to succeed. This is not the case in all households, and it is important to acknowledge this, but it is also important to acknowledge and applaud the many caregivers who are able to allow students to succeed from home.

Thank you for reading and please leave any thoughts below!

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