COVID-19 leaves parents adjusting to life at home with children

By Cilicia Anderson
Outlook Writer

While most school-age children were missing classes, not much changed for 4-year-old Kennedi Martin. 

Her day begins with breakfast. She gets dressed in her burgundy plaid uniform.

Just as she would on a normal day.

Getting to her pre-k classroom is the one major change. It’s in her family living room.

Her instructor is her father, Derrick Martin. He is a math teacher at Raa Middle School and is one of 15,000 Leon County School teachers who are housebound as the city copes with coronavirus.

Kennedi, a student at Bethel Christian Academy, is one of more than 33,000 students who have been out of school since classes were suspended on March 14.

Meanwhile, parents have been forced to work from home as government officials push for social distancing.

 That scenario has created somewhat of a chaotic situation in some homes, while others have simply adjusted their schedule to one that allows them and their children to be productive.

“I took her to my job, which she’s been to many times and we packed up a lot of our materials and brought them here,” Martin said. “She knows that daddy’s work is to be a teacher with the big kids but now she’s starting to put together that dad is now teaching me.”

Derrick Martin has his 4-year-old daughter, Kennedi, practice her letters at home while school is out.
Photo special to the Outlook

One of her classmates and his sister have even joined Kennedi and her dad. Kennedi enjoys the time they share, her father said.

Across town, Susan Ray is faced with a different situation. She is the mother of Robert, a 16-year-old Leon High School student, and Zola, a 19-year-old student at Florida State University. Both are taking virtual classes online.

Working at home for Ray, who is employed at the Florida Bar, is not a first. However, this time it’s a little different.

“I’ve worked from home before but typically they’re at school during the day,” said Ray. “Now I have to go into another room to concentrate.”

With restaurants closed in the city, Ray finds that she has been cooking more than she normally would for the kids. She thinks they miss being able to eat out.

The Ray family has been passing the time by streaming shows on Netflix. Sometimes Robert gets driving lessons in preparation for his license test.

On the other hand, Martin has found it easier to keep Kennedi as close as he can to her regular school schedule. He wakes her around the same time she usually gets up for school, dresses her in her uniform. He schedules breaks and naps around the same time she did before COVID 19 left her home-bound.

Given their ages, Ray doesn’t have to put in much classroom time with her children.

However, Martin does. He teaches his daughter through her school’s curriculum as well as having her read from his own collection of books.

Most of Kennedi’s work is from a pre-k program that’s sent by email from her school, Martin said. 

“I printed that packet out a couple of times for Kennedi as well as the friends that come over and I have been working with them through that packet,” he said.

After a few hours of reading and writing, Kennedi gets a break. She rides her bike for about a mile. Her dad assist by pushing her up steep hills before they go back home for a snack and her phonics lessons. That’s followed by lunch and recess before she takes a nap.   She wraps up the day’s studies with math.

Martin empathizes with some of his friends who have to adjust to life at home with their children. Most are in professions unlike his as a teacher.

 “I’m used to educating everyday whereas they would be more used to dropping their child off and then picking them up in the afternoon but now they’re having to do the things that come normal to me,” he said. “So it’s nothing to me to wake up from 9:05 to 10:25, it’s more of a norm for me I’m just not doing it in a classroom setting, around my other educators but I love it. I love the time that I have with my daughter.”