How one Valley school district is helping parents and kids

COVID-19 pandemic sharpens digital divide for rural students
Posted at 4:00 AM, Feb 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-16 07:45:04-05

PHOENIX — From mental health worries to understanding online safety tools, raising kids in a digital world isn't easy.

FULL COVERAGE: Bridging the Education Gap

The Madison School District in north central Phoenix is focused on helping parents with a virtual series called Thrive.

The free hour-long sessions are open to anyone who wants to listen in. They happen monthly and they're designed to give parents the resources they need.

The next sessions will be online:

  • March 10 | 6:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m | "Elementary to Middle School Transition: Supporting the Move From 4th Grade to Middle School Grades 5-8" - Phyllis Fagell, LCPC, Certified Professional Counselor and Author of "Middle School Matters" | Watch the March 10th Session Online
  • March 24 | 6:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m | "High School Transition: Supporting Your Middle School Student to High School" - Madison School District Administrative Team/GUHSD and PHXUSD Administrative Team | Watch the March 24th Session Online
  • April 7 | 6:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m | "Vaping and Substance Abuse Experimentation" - Shane Watson, Not My Kid, Inc. | Watch the April 7th Session Online
  • May 12 | 6:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m | "Summer, Summer, Summer: Ways to Amplify Youth Mental Health" - Travis Webb, Travis Webb Therapy, LCSW | Watch the May 12th Session Online (link coming soon)

Edie Dolan, Director of Student Services, tells ABC15 that children thrive when resilience, compassion, and mindfulness are being modeled at home.

"For myself, I'll talk to my kids, when I have a really challenging day and just model some of the feelings I'm experiencing not believable and recognize those emotions, and then talk through different strategies that I use to help me."

Mental health experts and online safety experts like Chris McKenna from Project Young Eyes, share what parents need to know about social media and gaming.

He also offers resources that include mini lessons for kids.

Parents are also encouraged to ask questions.

"Part of our district strategic plan is creating an environment that's really conducive to social-emotional growth," Dolan described. "It's about empowering families and equipping them with a high-quality set of information so that they can support their kids. We can see that the pandemic has been hard on children as well as adults. And there's been a lot of challenges over the last few years. So I think something important to keep in mind is how our school districts are serving as partners for families."

And when it comes to creating a meaningful and relevant connection with your kids, she says, "familiarize yourself with the digital world your kids are living in, find ways to spend quality time together and do what you can to be the person they can count on, more than anyone else."