NORTH ROYALTON – With COVID-19 forcing schools across Ohio to close, many parents have been tasked with homeschooling their children during this pandemic.

But one mother has gained recognition for keeping one daily school tradition alive during this time. Mary Beth Kressler, whose children attend Royal View Elementary School, started her kids’ first day of homeschooling by taking them outside to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. She said one reason they did so was to ensure the kids take homeschooling seriously by starting them off with something they would normally do at school.

“More importantly, I wanted to teach them that being patriotic is a good thing,” Mary said. “We want them to love our country and be proud of where they come from.”

After a few days of practicing this routine, Mary said, one of their neighbor children saw them doing this and told their parents. By the end of the week, a total of three households of parents and children started their morning reciting the Pledge of Allegiance together at 9 a.m.

“The kids loved it and while we all stayed in our own driveways for social distancing purposes, it gave the kids something to do while not actually being together,” she said.

Shortly after this neighborhood ritual started, one of the Kresslers’ neighbors recorded their children reciting the Pledge of Allegiance from their driveway along with the other neighborhood children in theirs and posted it on Twitter. The video has since drawn a lot of national attention.

“I had no idea her (the neighbor)’s husband had recorded it at the time, nor did I have any idea that we would get such a positive reaction from everyone,” Mary said. “It really touched my heart and it made me very proud of all of the kids.”

The video has received more than eight million views online and has even inspired others to post videos of themselves reciting the Pledge from their homes. But in addition to the positive feedback, the Twitter post of the video has also received some negative comments about the families’ intentions.

“Those comments really saddened me and were very eye opening,” Mary said. “It breaks my heart that some people can’t see the importance of teaching patriotism and I wish others knew that we did this for the kids and not at all for attention.”

Mary said she was surprised at how quickly the schools were closed down due to the coronavirus outbreak, but said she believes it was the right thing to do to stop the spread of the virus and keep students, teachers and community members healthy.

“Our team of educators have been wonderful through this transition,” she said. “They have been very accessible when I’ve had questions and you can tell after a little over a week that they are really missing these kids. North Royalton School District has handled this extremely well.”

Since the closing of the schools, Mary Beth Kressler and her husband, Scott, have kept busy with their four children. In addition to schoolwork, the kids and their parents have spent their newfound free time going for walks in the park, writing positive messages in their driveway with chalk, watching movies, video chatting with family and friends and enjoying imagination playtime with the kids and their toys. Also during this time, Mary said, this experience allows her children to learn computer skills at an early age.

“They are learning to send e-mails and type on a keyboard,” she said. “I also really want the kids to continue to stay connected to their teachers and school friends. Those relationships are so important at times like this.”

One piece of advice Mary offered other parents homeschooling their children during this time is to try to coordinate a schedule for every day.

“We aren’t super strict about a schedule, but we try to start schoolwork at the same time every day,” she said. “We get up and get dressed, brush our teeth, fix our beds as if we are leaving the house, lunch and dinner around the same time every day and we keep bedtime around 8 p.m. every single night. I believe our kids thrive on routine and when they know what to expect, then our day runs smoother.”

Mary also recommends homeschooling parents find some time for themselves on a daily basis whenever possible.

“Our house is so noisy all the time that sometimes you’ll find me eating snacks in the laundry room just to keep my sanity,” she joked.

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