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Back to School

Brian FisherSeptember 2, 2020

College Planning

In normal conditions, this time of year is usually a boom for retailers as “Back to School” sales pop up everywhere. Although sad to see the summer end, kids could always take solace in that new lunchbox, that special backpack or those new sneakers. But these are far from normal times. As families, educators and policy makers decide on the best ways for a return to school, the days of Trapper Keepers and pencil boxes have been replaced by desks and laptops.

As Covid-19 forced schools to close in the spring and move education to virtual learning, children have been absent from the traditional brick and mortar setting for nearly six months. This is something families have never experienced and although most virtual experiences in the spring did not meet parent’s expectations, they need to be ready for the possibility that the entire 2020-21 school year could be conducted from the confines of their homes. Although we have operated in a work at home environment for the last few months, this is not going to be an easy transition. Parents working from home and children learning from home are not the norm. As the weather starts to cool, the days get shorter and we spend more time inside, the stress level will go up. There are, however, several steps we can take to make things smoother as kids go back to school:

  • Reading. Kids have come off a summer vacation on the heels of a three-month spring break. If they are able to read, get them started on a new book. If they can’t read as of yet, start reading to them. The brain needs stimulation and reading increases attention spans, focus and concentration. It is also a great stress reliever.
  • Exercise. Physical fitness will be an important part of the home schooling process. Maintaining a healthy weight, building and maintaining muscle and strengthening their immune system are all benefits to kids exercising.
  • Schedule. Children struggle with time management. Have them put together a schedule with times for certain tasks, including free time, reading time and time to exercise. Just because they can roll out of bed at 7:55am and be in a Zoom class at 8:00 may be what they want to do, but don’t let it happen. Their schedule should have a certain wake-up time, similar to the routine if they needed to catch a bus. Have them eat, get dressed and share some conversation before their school day starts.
  • Classroom. The classroom is now in the home. Designate a specific learning space for your kids. This maybe in their bedrooms or next to you at the dining room table. This area should be their space for learning. This will give them a sense of responsibility as they will look at this space as their personal home office.
  • Minimize distractions. This could be the most challenging aspect of virtual school. Doorbells, voices, barking dogs and cell phone buzzes will occur on a daily basis. Try to keep doors closed, phones on mute, televisions off.
  • Dry run on technology. The first day of school is usually your chance to find your way around a child’s new school or a new route to classes in their old school. This year. Opening day lessons will include how to work your laptop. Teachers will introduce themselves and describe what they will be teaching and their expectations of the students. If possible, walk through the technology the school will use for work submission and classroom work prior to the first day of school. This can lower the stress level and make the first days of school less overwhelming.
  • Teamwork. This is not going to be easy. Technology doesn’t always work the way you want it to. Some days are going to be frustrating. Keep open lines of communication with your kids. Check-in with them during the day. See how their day is going. Provide an understanding ear when they have to vent. And let them know that you, too, may be feeling anxieties or frustration similar to theirs as you all work from home.

Enjoy the last few weeks of summer. Stay positive and open-minded about the virtual world we are living in and dream of normalcy returning in the not too distant future.  We wish you all the best of luck as your children and/or grandchildren start on this history-making endeavor.

 

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