Navigating learning through the pandemic: Friends of the Children-Boston

May 25, 2023

Friends of the Children’s support of twin sisters Gabriella and Jade and their family ensured the girls continued to stay on track during and after the pandemic.

Gabriella and Jade, twins and the youngest of five children, each have a Friends of the Children professional mentor, Paula and Mary Kate, providing individualized support and programming.

“When first selected, neither twin would speak to us,” recalls Mary Kate. During their first outing, I literally only knew I had the right twin because Jade instinctively grabbed my hand as we were heading into the office.”

Over time, the girls’ personalities began to show. Both are very sassy and like to joke around and tease their professional mentors. They are both creative – they enjoy making bracelets and pretending to cook. Gabriella loves to draw and play with play dough and Jade loves playing Roblox.

Prior to the pandemic, their mom had a great routine and structure in place to support her children’s education and schooling and Gabriella and Jade were more or less on par academically. The pandemic disrupted everything. She had to balance work as a single mom providing for her family of six and supporting at-home learning including for the twins whose learning and emotional development was being adversely impacted in different ways.

The pandemic uncovered learning differences between Gabriella and Jade that had once been masked by in-person learning and, as it had for so many children like Gabriella and Jade, the gap widened. Paula and Mary Kate responded in different ways based on the unique needs of each child. Jade needed help from Mary Kate to stay on task and pay attention while in remote learning. Gabriella needed Paula to morph into a tutor providing rigor and structure to support her remote learning.

Having Paula and Mary Kate there gave mom a sense of relief and reprieve. She knew she had Mary Kate and Paula to support her youngest girls as well as help with basic needs like weekly grocery delivery, tips on how to support her other three children, and tools like noise canceling headphones and academic supplies for all five siblings to aid in at-home learning.

Gabriella and Jade, who are now in the fourth grade and in a new school, have entered the classroom on par with their grade level both emotionally and academically thanks to the hard work, dedication and support of Paula, Mary Kate, and their mom. Mom is relieved to have Mary Kate and Paula who she continues to work with to put structures back into place for the twins and all her children as she works each day to support her family.

Gabriella and Jade still have another eight years in their journey with Friends-Boston and mom knows that their “no matter what promise” is just that, a commitment to be there for her and her girls throughout their 12-year journey, doing whatever is needed to be sure that Gabriella, Jade, and the whole family thrive.

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