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It Takes a Village: How families are coping with back to learning

Parents of all economic backgrounds are feeling stress and anxiety as back to learning begins this fall, but there are solutions.

DENVER — Over the last several weeks the options for back to learning continue to change, and that means working parents are having to adjust and change on the fly.

So, I asked our It Takes a Village Facebook group how they were coping, and for most the answer was the same. They were feeling anxiety, guilt and fear over what this new school year would bring.

Within those emotions are very different experiences with different solutions. 

Mary Mendelsberg is a working mom of two school age kids. Her husband is a nurse. Juggling their jobs and remote learning has caused a lot of anxiety.

“It’s been the hardest 4 or 5 months. As a mom people say, 'you signed up for this… you’re a mom and this is what should be expected of you,'" Mendelsberg said. 

Her children have required constant attention, which makes balancing her work and her children's school work difficult to manage. 

"The younger one had to have me with him all the time because he can’t read. And I could tell the older one could figure it out, but he would cut corners," Mendelsberg said. 

In order to help with the workflow, her family built a work station in a place where everyone could get their tasks done together. 

“They have their little school set up," Mendelsberg said. "I can turn around and tell them what to do, and it’s definitely two full-time jobs right now.”

Summer may have provided a break, but now, as back to learning plans change, her family must adapt quickly. Still, she is grateful for her options. 

“I know how privileged we are in that we can hire help if we needed to. But most people, many people are not in that position," Mendelsberg  said. 

>Video below: Ways parents can support kids during the back to school process

The families who don't have that privilege may feel like they must choose between the health and education of their children and earning enough money to pay their bills. 

Shant'a Johnson recognizes that need and is seeking solutions for those families. She is a Denver Public Schools (DPS) parent and former district educator who is using her skills to connect grass roots organizations with those families who have the most need. 

Some groups will even give specialized help. 

"Such as Faith Bridge. They actually have retired educators who are willing to use their time and efforts and expertise to support students in targeted areas such as literacy and mathematics and science," Johnson said.

The solution is going to look different for everyone, and the path there isn’t going to be easy.

"It is, it’s so much guilt," Mendelsberg said. "Those that choose the e-learning are also feeling an incredible amount of guilt about not socializing their children. So I think parents are just put in this no-win situation right now.”

Low income families looking for help with their child's education have several options. 

Faith Bridge: Recruiting educational volunteers, has a volunteer base of retired educators to support families during remote learning time. Has many partners throughout the community and public education sector.  Focused in the Far Northeast and Northeast Denver area and Aurora, but seeking to expand throughout Denver Metro area given funding. Families can sign-up for support through this website.

Struggle of Love FoundationServing families in the Denver area through their food pantry and tutoring services.

Building Bridges:  Advocacy organization making plans for offering remote learning support for families.

Project Voyce: Youth advocacy program that is also planning to offer remote learning supports. Families can register their students under the programs tab.

Girls Inc.: Girls empowerment program offering leadership development and remote learning supports.

JEKL Foundation for S.T.E.A.M. Education: Offers year-round programming in science and engineering, also seeking funding to expand into offering community-based targeted academic supports to students in the areas of math and science. 

Young Aspiring Americans for Social and Political Activism (YAASPA):  Offering direct educational supports for students. Families can sign-up through this link.  


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