How to keep your kids connected during the pandemic: 'Separation of us connecting physically in spaces has a real impact'

Learning from home may be stressing parents, but the children will be fine

Posted: May 13, 2020 11:05 PM
Updated: May 14, 2020 6:17 AM

Dr. Jenny Severson is an expert in educational psychology and is keenly aware that we parents are more than a little stressed out by our new role as home educators. She says children too are grieving the loss of connection they have to their friends and teachers after months away from school.

"The separation of us connecting physically in spaces has a real impact," the Twin Cities based Severson said during a FaceTime interview this week.

Severson says the online connections children are maintaining with their friends and teachers are important and should be appreciated.

"Even though they're connecting on a screen, the screen disappears when you have a relationship with people and you are connected and you feel you have a history, a connection of commonality."

Severson has watched her own children light up when they are able to connect with their friends online.

"There is an absolute boost in what I know to be dopamine and serotonin in their brains, in their demeanor, in their posture, in their facial expressions," she said earnestly. "How they're showing up!"

This reporter has more than a passing interest in the nuances of learning from home. My 8-year-old son, Colton, is sequestered on his grandparent's farm in Anoka County, learning from home. He is living his best cowboy life, riding horses, driving a four-wheeler, hitting golf balls and even baking with grandma. Severson says not to worry too much about whether he might be falling behind in his studies.

"He is going to have treasured memories from this experience," she said confidently. "What I want to let you know is that he will catch up with specific protocols, neuroplasticity is real. The brain changes with habits, habit stacking. So, as long as he's reading, doing his math facts, you're talking about an eight-year-old, like a third-grader. Just keep those simple things and then embrace the rest of what he's getting to experience with his grandparents."

Severson's expertise extends well beyond education. She is one of five women who teamed up to write a new book entitled "Thrive." The authors are from different walks of life, and believe that any woman can become a woman of action, overcome any obstacle, and scale any height. For more information about this book which chronicles tales of falling down and getting back up, just click here.

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