There are still many unanswered questions about the fall, as school leaders rush to decide how best to navigate the still-ongoing COVID-19 pandemic
With only a few weeks before schools are scheduled to reopen, there is still uncertainty about what this school year will look like.
Many parents are feeling the stress of making the best decisions for their child, while also preparing them to return to school after the unprecedented disruption caused by COVID-19. There is still much to be determined, but parents can begin working with their children now to get them ready for the upcoming year, regardless of whether they will return to the classroom or continue to learn at home.
Here are six things you can do to get a leg up on a back-to-school season like never before.
1. Be flexible. If we have learned anything over the last few months, it’s that things can change very quickly. School districts have been working through the summer to develop multiple plans to accommodate many permutations of possible situations, including a full reopening of schools, modified and blended remote-onsite schedules, and fully remote learning. As COVID cases rise or fall in your area, be prepared for schools to adjust the plan to prevent the spread.
2. Be open. It’s important to talk to your children and make them fully aware of all the possibilities for returning to school. Tell them about the current plans for schools in your area but be sure they understand that plans may change in time in order to keep everyone safe. Discuss the safety measures around wearing masks or social distancing and answer any questions they may have. Reinforce that they can talk to you about their uncertainties or anxieties and keep them updated as new information is released. Doing this will help children know what to expect and eliminate any surprises.
3. Create a consistent schedule. Summer is a time for respite and relaxation for students, and a summer schedule is often very different than that of a school day. As the start of the school year gets closer, it’s helpful to implement consistent sleep and activity schedules, especially as many students have been out of school for much longer than usual. A healthy routine that mirrors their routine during the school year will make the start of school easier for both parents and students.
4. Don’t forget to read. Reading is perhaps the single most important activity to keep students engaged during the summer and prepare them for school in the fall. It is also a great time to engage your children in the books that interest them most. Most libraries will allow you to reserve and check-out books online with touchless pickup. And reading together is always a great way to connect with your child and support their growth.
5. Go for walks. With museums, amusement parks, and movie theatres mostly closed, we’re all feeling more than a little cooped up. This is a great time to go for a daily walk with your child and find out what’s on their mind. Giving your child your full attention away from computer and television screens is certain to spur meaningful conversations, especially around their hopes and fears for the upcoming year.
6. Most importantly, be patient with your child…and yourself. We had little time to adjust to remote learning and parenting in the time of a pandemic. Many worry that they aren’t doing the “right” things when it comes to their child’s education: Is my child falling behind? What can I do to make sure she stays on track? Are other parents doing it better?
Remember, it’s not a competition. You are not competing with anyone else; your number one job is to make sure your child feels safe, loved, and supported. Going for walks, reading books, spending time, and talking with them will give you insights into their academic strengths and weaknesses. When you focus on their individual needs you can better support them with their teachers and be the advocate that all of our children so desperately need at this time.