Back to school will likely look a lot different this year. School may be in-person, virtual or even a hybrid of the two. And, as circumstances change, an unexpected pivot is a very real possibility. Regardless of what age or stage your kids are in, you can guide them through these difficult times with encouragement and by giving them the confidence and tools to succeed.
Plan For Success
Before the school year starts, developing a routine will keep everyone organized and on track. Display a visual schedule with information for each family member in a central location. Encourage young children to participate by letting them choose their favorite stickers to check off completed tasks. Older kids can keep their own more detailed schedule of assignments and activities in addition to the family calendar.
Everyone needs their own dedicated space. Younger children will have to be set up where they can be supervised, but older children will crave privacy away from the hustle and bustle.
PPB Tip: Prepare in advance for the family’s technology needs to avoid school day meltdowns.
And, while you are in planning mode, think about meals as well. The bonus for many of us still working from home is that we can start the day enjoying a family breakfast together. And, with less hectic after school schedules and no evening commute, it is easier for everyone to regroup and reconnect around the dinner table.
Ready. Set. Learn!
Whether the first day is in person or virtual, get younger kids excited just like you would any other year! Nothing is better than a new box of crayons, even if it’s for lessons at the kitchen counter! From the start, developing strong relationships between students, parents and teachers is crucial. Connect with teachers and/or school counselors to discuss any difficulties your child is having with remote learning or adjusting to the new realities of the in-person school day.
Keep in mind, young children at home will need more help from family members (try getting older siblings involved!). Since they will likely do better with shorter, diverse activities and hands on learning, turn that walk or a quick run to the market into an educational outing.
Tweens ‘N Teens
No matter where they are learning, younger teens may need some guidance to become more self sufficient. However, high school students should be managing the majority of their school work independently. Set the stage for lifelong learning success by taking advantage of this time to better understand your teen’s interests. Ask them about topics that are of special significance to them and point them towards independent exploration. You may find you have a budding coder, chef or chemist in your house!
Empower teens to have a voice in scheduling their school work and activities depending on how their school reopens. Be supportive and remind them of the importance of remaining engaged with teachers and peers - even though they may not be together with them in person.
Whether they are anxious about missing friends while learning virtually or concerned about returning to the classroom, their feelings are real. Be an active listener and let them know that they can talk to you and share their thoughts.
Freshmen anticipating their first taste of independence or upperclassmen used to being on their own, may now be facing the disappointment of ‘attending’ college from home. If so, it is important to let them be as independent as possible, but remind them that they are still expected to be a participating member of the household.
If they are able to be on campus, the hardest part for families may be navigating uncertainty and anxiety from a distance. Make sure your student is informed of the best practices to remain healthy. But, try not to make their health the only topic of conversation. Instead, inquire about classes and friends first and always keep the channels of communication open. Encourage them with patience as they acclimate to online and/or in-person classes, cancelled or limited extracurricular activities and restrictions to social interactions.
Kids of all ages are resilient. The best thing you can do for your family is to remain flexible, supportive and positive. This is an opportunity to teach them to successfully manage uncertainty and change - skills that will last a lifetime.