One of the more surprising reveals of the pandemic lockdown has been watching movie stars and other celebrities going a little crazy trying to figure out full-time parenting. While I admit to a little schadenfreude over seeing people who never had to lift a finger suddenly be plunged into child supervision 24/7, the truth is that the rich and famous were no more prepared than the rest of us to deal with months of at-home learning.

From preschool to college, no one quite knew what to do. Even now, as schools try to figure out how to stay open and keep children and faculty safe, there’s still a big component of online learning — and parents still worry if they’re doing right by their kids. 

Fortunately, help has arrived in the form of The Distance Learning Playbook for Parents (Corwin). “It might comfort you to know that research tells us teaching from a distance is not necessarily more ineffective than teaching in person. Distance learning is not going to harm your child’s education if there is a partnership between you, your child, and the teacher,” write the top-notch team of educators and child psychology experts behind this timely guide. 

The writing team includes Rosalind Wiseman, best known for her groundbreaking book about girl empowerment, Queen Bees and Wannabes, which became Mean Girls, the movie and musical. Wiseman does an impressive job helming the Playbook, reassuring parents and laying out points in actionable, easy-to-follow steps. Among Wiseman’s invaluable advice:

  • You don’t have to be your child’s teacher. You do have to do everything you can to support your child’s love of learning.
  • You don’t have to handle everything well all the time. You do have to learn how to manage negative emotions like anxiety so you take care of your emotional well-being and role model social-emotional skills for your child.
  • You don’t have to have the “perfect” family schedule you can post on Pinterest. You do have to set up routines for you and your child to create consistency in a time when change is the only thing that’s certain. 
  • You do have to recognize that your child’s friendships are essential to their mental health and they will have to maintain their friendships online even more than they did before the pandemic. You don’t have to let your child be online all the time. 
  • Don’t see social media and technology as one. Do see social media and technology as separated into three “buckets” of connection, creation, and consumption. Using social media and technology to connect with important people in our lives and create things to express ourselves are incredibly important right now. Using social media and technology mindlessly to consume the information targeted to us is extremely negative to our emotional and physical wellness. 

This sensible guide provides the kind of advice, support, and yes, consolation, that school parents have been craving during the pandemic. The Distance Learning Playbook for Parents tackles everything a parent might need to support their child’s education during this crisis.

There’s plenty of information about school subjects and ways to supplement learning, but, perhaps even more importantly, it addresses underlying issues with which parents and children continue to struggle during the pandemic — routines, technology, social and emotional development, values, principles, mindsets and even parental self-care. 

No one knows how long it will be until we return to life as we knew it, but in the meantime, here’s a book that will make parenting and educating our children a little less stressful and a bit easier for all parents, even the rich and famous.

Buy this book!

Rosalind Wiseman is the founder of Cultures of Dignity, an organization that shifts the way communities think about our physical and emotional wellbeing by working in close partnership with the experts of those communities ― young people, educators, policymakers, and business and political leaders. Her other recent Corwin publication is Owning Up: Empowering Adolescents to Create Cultures of Dignity and Confront Social Cruelty and Injustice (2020), a comprehensive social justice program for grades 4-12 which is in widespread use across the world. She is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Queen Bees and Wannabes: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends, and the New Realities of Girl World, the groundbreaking book that was the basis for the movie and Broadway musical Mean Girls; and Masterminds & Wingmen: Helping Our Boys Cope with Schoolyard Power, Locker-Room Tests, Girlfriends, and the New Rules of Boy World, which addresses the social lives of boys and was awarded Best Parenting Book by Books for a Better Life.

Douglas Fisher, Ph.D., is Professor and Chair of Educational Leadership at San Diego State University and a leader at Health Sciences High and Middle College having been an early intervention teacher and elementary school educator. He is the recipient of an International Reading Association William S. Grey citation of merit, an Exemplary Leader award from the Conference on English Leadership of NCTE, as well as a Christa McAuliffe award for excellence in teacher education. He has published numerous articles on reading and literacy, differentiated instruction, and curriculum design as well as books, such as PLC+: Better Decisions and Greater Impact by Design; Building Equity; and Assessment-Capable Learners.

Nancy Frey, Ph.D., is a Professor in Educational Leadership at San Diego State University and a leader at Health Sciences High and Middle College. She has been a special education teacher, reading specialist and administrator in public schools. Nancy has engaged in Professional Learning Communities as a member and in designing schoolwide systems to improve teaching and learning for all students. She has published numerous books, including The Teacher Clarity Playbook and Rigorous Reading. 

John Hattie, Ph.D., is an award-winning education researcher and bestselling author with nearly 30 years of experience examining what works best in student learning and achievement. His research, better known as Visible Learning, is a culmination of nearly 30 years synthesizing more than 1,500 meta-analyses comprising more than 90,000 studies involving over 300 million students around the world. He has presented and keynoted in over 350 international conferences and has received numerous recognitions for his contributions to education. His notable publications include Visible LearningVisible Learning for TeachersVisible Learning and the Science of How We LearnVisible Learning for Mathematics, Grades K-12, and, most recently, 10 Mindframes for Visible Learning.