A new book to guide parents of school-aged kids during the pandemic and beyond comes out next week.
Wasatch County School District Special Education Director and School Psychologist Dr. Ben Springer's newest book, “GPS: Good Parenting Strategies, A No-Guilt Survival Guide for Parenting During the Pandemic and Beyond,” will be available next week. This month marks a year since the COVID-19 pandemic shut down schools forcing parents to take on more active daily involvement in their child's education. With businesses shuttering, parents and kids found themselves working and schooling from home.
Springer has guided parents and kids in mental health and wellness programs for 20 years, and his publisher approached him about the project. He said kids are resilient. However, the COVID-19 pandemic raised new challenges they hadn't seen before.
"If you were any parent in any capacity, over the past year, this has been a whopper of a year,” he said. “So, hopefully, just sharing a bunch of strategies and working with other parents and navigating it, you know, as a special ed director and a school psychologist, is the whole perspective there. Having school, the physical, you know, face-to-face instruction, has been really critical. I know a lot of the anxieties and stresses kids were facing and parents whom I was working with, when there was a lot of uncertainty about when are we going to return. Are we going to shut down. And the more consistency we've had, whether it's a consistent online situation or consistent face-to-face situation, kids have been really able to bounce back."
His book has ten sections, the first of which offers ways for parents to combat guilt and shame, which are emotions that can affect everything else in family dynamics.
"If you can manage that battle, the rest are just tools,” he said. “So, I have stuff in there, you know, about how to build structure at home, how to discipline. We have two sections on discipline. Discipline 101, then Advanced Discipline. And then, all the way down to the last two sections are probably my favorite. It's how to find happiness and build resilience in your family."
Springer said the book could help parents build strategies that can be used beyond the pandemic crisis.
He said educators and administrators had struggled as much as parents and kids with pandemic-related challenges. The attention on teacher well-being started even before the pandemic. He said kids experience their own social and emotional stress, but the adults' second-hand stress in their lives, including their teachers, must be addressed.
"We partnered with the University of Utah, and we created these linked modules where we're linking educators to resources and tools to navigate the pandemic,” he said. “And one of those modules was educator self-care and well-being. And you know, we talk a lot about self-care and well-being, but if you don't know the path to get there or a couple of doors to open to get there, it's not the easiest thing for a lot of us to take care of ourselves."
Springer said representing all students in the wellness conversation is critical.
"For us to authentically discuss wellness for all children, we have to have a lot more representation from diverse groups. And that's something that we're working really hard to do here locally in the Wasatch County School District. I just had my very first phone call with our Encircle Board. I'm on the board for the Encircle House that's coming to Heber, and that's, you know, a safe haven and supports LGBTQ kids. And we're really excited about that. And we're always advocating and trying to do more to have our Latinx community represented in these discussions."
Springer's book, GPS: Good Parenting Strategies, “A No-Guilt Survival Guide for Parenting During the Pandemic and Beyond,” will be available March 16 on Amazon or through his publisher at Corwin.com.