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Tips to help you and your kids thrive in a new school atmosphere

All around the country school districts are weighing their options for the upcoming year, and many parents are trying to decide whether virtual, hybrid, or in-person learning is best. Regardless which your school system decides, here are some tips to help you prepare for the extraordinary new schedules and challenges with more support and less judgement.

Keep in mind, you (the parent) are the most important part of this new education team. You know your child better than anyone else and can contribute, especially now, such important and key information on what your child needs for success.

Tips for In-Person Learning:

  • Consider administrators could change to virtual learning at any moment, subject to the severity of the pandemic. Be prepared for short-notice changes. You may need to consider the feasibility of teleworking, taking leave from work, or identifying someone who can watch your child on short notice. “My son started 3rd grade on July 8th back in his school with regular transportation. On his fifth day back, he was sent home with a letter announcing the school would be closing for two straight weeks due to a positive COVID testing of one of the staff members. They would be continuing his education virtually from home until they could return to the school. We had to pivot with very little notice,” said Taylor Malbon, Marketing Strategist and mother of two.
  • Check your child each morning for signs of sickness. Keep a thermometer on hand to make it a part of your morning routine. If your child has a temperature of 100˚ or higher, a cough, diarrhea, severe headache coming or body aches they should not go to school. 
  • Masks - Purchase a minimum of five masks for each child and keep one in the book bag every day. Allow your child to pick out their mask so they feel comfortable and proud to wear it. Before they leave in the morning, check to make sure they have their mask. Some schools are only requiring the teachers to wear masks, but as we’ve learned, nothing is set in stone, so it is better to be prepared. 
  • Label each mask with permanent marker so your child does not confuse their mask for another child’s
  • Make sure the mask completely covers the nose AND mouth 
  • Mask should be secured with ties or ear loops 
  • Mask should allow for weathering without restriction 
  • Pack hand sanitizer and discuss the proper amount to be used each time
  • Make sure you have updated all emergency contact information with your school
  • Prepare your child for the social changes and etiquette that will likely be sanctioned
    • Review and practice proper hand washing techniques at home with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds each washing
    • Discourage the use of water fountains, instead consider packing a water bottle each day
    • Keep physical distance - no hugging, handshaking, etc 
  • Sneeze into the crook of their elbow and not into their hand 
  • Avoid sharing objects

Virtual Learning:

  • Take the time to create a welcoming space for your child to work to help normalize the experience. Involve your child in these decisions to ensure they are happy and excited with their new environment. Perhaps turn the guest bedroom into a virtual, home classroom with a reading corner, a computer station, and an art station. Ask your child, “What was your favorite area in the classroom?”  
  • Familiarize yourself with the platforms your students will be using. You can read the FAQs and reach out regarding anything you do not understand. 
  • In many districts, teachers will be educating students virtually, so you just have to ensure they are logged in and ask the appropriate questions when the teacher is on. Don’t feel like you have to bear the brunt of your child’s education. 
  • Keep your children on a schedule as best you can. Even if the teachers require them to submit all work by Friday, do not allow them to wait until Friday to complete all assignments. A little each day is better than waiting until the last minute. 
  • If your child has an IEP or 504 Plan, mental health or behavioral services talk to your school to inquire how these services will continue. 
  • Take a break. When frustrations are high, consider taking a small break so everyone can reset and refocus.  
  • Communicate with the teachers. If you see your child struggling, or if tensions are high with daily assignments, reach out to the teachers to express your concerns. There is likely an alternative to the technology or assignment you’re struggling with. It never hurts to ask. 
  • Find group support. Talk to other parents at your school. You may find it is a valuable way to share tips and learn more about what's going on. Search Facebook Groups or ask your school administrators for local links.

Home Schooling:

  • Create a virtual interactive classroom - There are several tutorials on YouTube if you search “make bitmoji virtual classroom” 
  • If you are working from home, while trying to educate, schedule out blocks of time for pure work and pure schooling so the two do not collide. “I found that if I tried to educate during my working hours, my stress was on high alert and I was negatively impacting my kids. Once I learned to focus on work first then shut down my computer to focus on the kids, I was in a much better mindset and less distracted,” Taylor said.
  • If your student doesn't want to work on math right now, let them work on reading, or have them work on something that's less intellectually challenging but more hands on like an art project. One of the benefits of virtual or homeschooling is there can be more flexibility in the daily syllabus.
  • Manage your time with convenience services such as:
  • Grocery delivery/pick-up
  • Instant recipes: pressure cooker meals

Tutoring: Consider bringing in professional help that fits your budget and schedule.

  • Search online for “tutors near me” or visit sites such as Care.com and Tutors.com to find local professionals who can offer: 
  • One-on-one tutoring for students who are doing distance learning
  • Group tutoring for students doing distance learning 
  • One-on-one homeschooling
  • Group homeschooling

Students are impressionable. Please also consider a parents' negative reaction to the new changes can really affect the moral and mental health of the kids. Is any of this ideal for us? No! But we must decide to make the best of it and maintain an open mind. 

Let's stay positive for our kids!

 


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