by Lisa Reichelt, Parent Coach
Are you stressed about Back to School 2020? Is preparing for the unknown a daunting task? Let’s talk! In order to reduce stress, it helps to focus on things that are under your control. So much of the back to school 2020 decisions are out of your control. So, what can you control? I’ve found a good way to feel that you are in control is to make plans. As families prepare for going back to school 2020, those plans will need to include a lot of variables. Let’s look at some scenarios together and this may help you to feel more in control.
Scenario One – Distance or Virtual Learning
If your child’s school is starting the year with Distance or Virtual learning only, you have a lot of planning to do. Your child will be at home and will be expected to study, interact online and complete assignments without the “in-person” benefit of a classroom teacher. That leaves parents with the task of overseeing school work and reteaching lessons when necessary.
- Attend any school meetings (virtual or in person) that are held so that you know what the school plans to do about delivering instruction, providing materials and communication with parents and students.
- Ask a lot of questions at these meetings. Prepare by writing your questions down before you attend the meeting. (Check out our Facebook and Instagram pages for some common parent questions and answers)
- Create a space for “school” in your home. Depending on your child and their learning style, this space may need to be out in the open or in their own bedroom. Be careful choosing the space and make sure it is a productive spot. One father I know thought his son was hard at work on school assignments, only to find out that Minecraft was occupying his son all afternoon.
- Create a daily schedule. If you are working from home, this is critical. Children find comfort in routine, so having a schedule they can rely on is going to make Distance Learning more effective. While creating your schedule remember to plan for break time, physical activity and play. Research shows that purposeful play is valuable learning.
- Make time for your child to interact with peers, either in person or virtually. Socialization is critical during distance learning. I asked 10-year-old Sam if he missed his friends during this spring’s Distance Learning. He said, “Not too much, we hung out on-line almost every day.”
- Get familiar with any technology and software your child will be expected to use. Your school district should have parent instructions available for any tech needs that your child runs into.
- Be prepared to be flexible and patient. Remember your child’s ability to handle Distance Learning will mirror your ability to stay calm and take on difficulties with grace and patience.
Scenario Two – Hybrid Model of Learning
Many school districts are starting the year with a Hybrid Model for student learning. In this scenario students will attend school a couple days a week and will learn from home on the other days of the week. This is different from the Distance Learning model in that students get some time with their teachers and friends, but they will not have interaction with their teacher on the days they are at home. This is because the teacher will be giving lessons to the other half of the students who were home while your child was in school. Your child will have school work to complete when they are at home, so some of the same suggestions above will apply to Hybrid Learning.
- Communicate, communicate, communicate! Knowing the expectations for your child when they are learning at home is critical. This is your chance to build a collaborative partnership with your child’s teacher. Just like you, the teacher wants your child to learn and to succeed, so work together and be an advocate for your child’s needs.
- Watch for stress in your child. As the parent, it is your job to monitor your child’s ability to handle learning using a Hybrid Model. If completing tasks at home becomes a battle, you should work with the classroom teacher to seek ways to modify assignments and find possible motivational strategies to ease your child’s stress. Talk with the teacher at the first signs of difficulty. It is better to be proactive than reactive.
- As I mentioned, you’ll need to plan in a similar way for Hybrid Learning as for Distance Learning, so, see the suggestions above for creating a space, scheduling and technology.
- Be prepared to be flexible and patient. Remember your child’s ability to handle Hybrid Learning will mirror your ability to stay calm and take on difficulties with grace and patience.
Scenario Three – In Person Learning
You may want to sit back and relax if your child is heading back to school 2020 full time with in-person learning. Not so fast! School “as we knew it” has changed and there is the very real possibility that more changes could occur. Due to Covid19, students will need to wear masks, physically distance from their peers and teachers, wash hands more frequently and stay healthy. Parents will need to have a new perspective as they send their children off to the school.
- Attend any school meetings as you prepare for the new year (virtual or in-person). Ask questions and take notes.
- Monitor your child’s health daily. Watch for fever, coughing, headache, fatigue and other Covid-19 symptoms. Teach your child to cough into a tissue when possible and to wash hands immediately afterwards. Teach them to wash their hands correctly (make a game of it, or use a song). Hand washing is the preferred method for cleansing, but sanitizer is also an alternative.
- Talk to your child about the changes at school- masks, distancing, lunchtime changes, etc. Help them to understand the changes are safety measure and they shouldn’t be fearful.
- Stay aware of your child’s mental health and social-emotional health. Watch for changes in mood or behavior. Talk to school personnel about how the school is addressing these needs for all students. A healthy habit for dinner time is to ask everyone to share their “Highs and Lows” from the day. This is a safe way for your child to open up about situations that may be stressful.
- Make preparations for the possibility that your family may need to quarantine in some way. It is inevitable that a teacher, student or staff member at school will contract Covid-19. In that case, your family may need to quarantine. If you have a plan in place, quarantine can run more smoothly. The CDC has excellent resources for planning. Here is a link to the site.
- Be prepared to be flexible and patient. Remember your child’s ability to handle returning to school will mirror your ability to stay calm and take on difficulties with grace and patience.
Scenario Four – Homeschooling
Maybe you decided that this is the time for you to dive into Homeschooling your children. If so, check out this article by Lisa Edwards. She offers great insight about Homeschooling. Taking complete responsibility for your child’s academic growth is a daunting task.
- Contact your school district. They will have information to assist you and they are legally responsible for tracking your child’s education.
- Reach out to others who Homeschool their children. Many excellent coops and associations are available to support homeschoolers.
- Stay aware of your child’s mental and social-emotional health. If homeschooling is new to your family, there may be an adjustment period. Your child may not be as thrilled about homeschooling as you are.
- As with Distance Learning, make a schedule, create a study space, and learn technology.
- Be prepared to be flexible and patient. Remember your child’s ability to handle Homeschooling will mirror your ability to stay calm and take on difficulties with grace and patience.
In conclusion, please take time to also prepare for the possibility that you may become sick and need to quarantine. If that happens, who will care for your family? How will all the responsibilities you have be turned over to someone else? Remember the saying “Focus only on what you can control.” Now is a good time to write down your plans. Many states have created tools for families to get organized. I am including links to resources from Minnesota, Alaska, and the CDC. Your state may also have resources online. We are available to help anytime. Contact us at www.championyourparenting.com, or email me at email@example.com. Together we will ride out this storm and grow in courage and resilience.
MN Family Planning Kit- https://mn.gov/mmb-stat/childrens-cabinet/covid-19-emergency-family-planning.pdf
CDC Virtual Learning Checklist – https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/pdf/Back-to-School-Planning-for-Virtual-or-At-Home-Learning.pdf
CDC In-Person Learning Checklist – https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/pdf/Back-to-School-Planning-for-In-Person-Classes.pdf
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