COVID-19: An opportunity to listen, learn, and lead with our children

As the world continues to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, the implications for schools and families remain front and center. During this unprecedented time, we are hopeful that parents will remember the critical importance of listening to and learning from their children. 
An opportunity
Listen to and learn from children

As the world continues to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, the implications for schools and families remain front and center. Difficult decisions are being made regarding school closures, and there is a domino effect on families which impact child care, food services for students in need, and learning time. During this unprecedented time, we are hopeful that parents will remember the critical importance of listening to and learning from their children.

Everyone, regardless of age, needs the opportunity to ask questions and express their concerns. At the same time, we all need to be responsible for doing our part to combat the global threat of COVID-19. As educators and families consider new approaches to learning during prolonged school closures, an intentional effort must be made to listen to our children, learn from what they have to say, and lead together to help heal the world. We propose a three-step approach:

Step 1: Listen
It may seem that the younger generations are more concerned with missing their friends than the actual health crisis, but we know this is NOT the case. When parents take the time to truly listen to their children, they will discover that many are significantly concerned. Will my parents lose their jobs? How will we get food? Will we be able to keep our home? If someone I love catches the virus, will they die? When will my life return to normal? As parents, we have similar concerns, and it is helpful for everyone to talk through these issues together. When doing so, genuinely listen to what your children have to say and resist the urge to do all the talking. This will help you gauge and respond to your children’s level of stress.


  • Setting aside a specific time, free from distraction, to really listen to the concerns and questions your children have about COVID-19. Put the cell phones away, make eye contact, and hear your children. It may take a little bit of encouragement to move past the “I don’t know” or “Can I just play my video game?” responses, but commit to consistently creating opportunities for open and honest communication.
  • Being selective with your sources of information. There is a lot of communication swirling around on social media—some good, some bad. This is an important opportunity to set a high standard for identifying reliable sources with your children and relying on accurate information.
  • Engaging your children (of all ages!) in meal preparation and using the time to talk about healthy habits and their ideas for combatting COVID-19.

Step 2:  Learn
School closures are presenting a variety of new challenges. Teachers are establishing online platforms and providing families with resources for students to learn at home. At the same time, parents are scrambling to address childcare needs, support their children’s learning, and keep everyone from going stir crazy! While these are all daunting tasks, indeed, your children have the potential to be your greatest partners in addressing the current learning challenges. If you approach these times with a spirit of adventure, and all the creativity you can muster, you can learn together—making discoveries about and with your children.


  • Learning about relevant terms together, such as social distancing, flattening the curve, and quarantining. There are countless avenues to explore—from the science behind the spread of viruses, to the economic impact of a pandemic, to the current supply and demand of goods such groceries, hand sanitizer, and of course—toilet paper! Focus on age-appropriate topics that will help reduce your children’s stress.
  • Creating a Family Academy with dedicated time for everyone in the house to read, explore, and learn together. Unleash your curiosity and creativity. Each day, identify something you are all curious about and take the time to research it together. Let your children be the teachers!

Part 3:  Lead
The work of the Quaglia Institute is based on a three-part definition of school voice:

  • Sharing thoughts, ideas, and opinions that are genuine in an environment underpinned by trust and respect.
  • Offering realistic suggestions and expectations for the good of the whole.
  • Accepting responsibility for not only what you say, but what needs to be done.

We believe there is no time like the present to truly embrace this definition of voice with your children. It is critical that we not only talk about the COVID-19 pandemic, but that every human—young and old alike—brainstorm solutions for the good of the whole, and that we all accept responsibility for the part we can play in restoring the world to a safe and healthy place.


  • Brainstorming actions that can be taken with your children to positively impact your community. Even while implementing social distancing, you can send notes of encouragement to healthcare workers, post happy messages on the outer windows of senior care facilities, or “spare a square” (reference for Seinfeld fans!) and share supplies with neighbors.
  • Involving your children in determining household responsibilities for fighting germs and keeping everything clean.
  • Researching young people who have had a significant impact on the world and helping your children recognize that their actions matter!

Time at home together during this health crisis is more than an opportunity to build a stronger relationship with your children. It is also an opportunity to grow and learn together, and to recognize our shared responsibilities to our world. Some of the greatest assets we have for combating COVID-19 are caring and loving parents. Your ability to establish a learning environment at home by listening to, learning from and leading with your children during these times is of paramount importance. We can all take action within our circle of influence, no matter how large or small. Take care of each other, and take action with your children to make a difference in the world around you today.