Back To School 2020 "Pandemic Style"

Back to school this year for most of us will be very different from the norm. Most of our children are returning to school as virtual learners for the upcoming school year. As a parent this can be a very overwhelming feeling. Parents are working from home or their jobs are essential so they are still traveling to work, and the idea of being a full-time employee or entrepreneur in addition to a full-time teacher can seem impossible. Being a mompreneur myself I would like to offer six tips to get our kids and ourselves prepared for another successful year.

Prepare, Prepare, Prepare. Begin preparing by creating a learning atmosphere that is conducive to your child’s needs. Now is the time to start preparing a dedicated area for learning. Within our homes it is important for kids to have an organized and dedicated workspace, much like they would at school. Even if that means a temporary desk or one that folds away. Or a table designated for in-school learning time, that can be folded up and put away everyday with foldable chairs. This also means preparing ourselves. Ensuring we have established workspaces, asking our employers expectations during this time, and making sure we are preparing mentally for a different school year.

Make These Moments Memorable. Depending on what age your children are, this year may mark a new milestone in their education. Whether it be entry into kindergarten, or transitioning from elementary to middle, middle to high school or even college. It is important to still make this year just as memorable. As an example, I will have a kindergartener this year and making this year special for her despite the circumstances, is at the top of our list. I intend to ensure she is excited about new school supplies, that she picks out her favorite outfit for her first day, combs her hair in her favorite style, and gets to pack her own lunch. Having a great start along with the right attitude will ensure that she is just as excited this year as she would be if it were a normal school year. You can also create these special memories for your transitioning middle and high schoolers, and college kiddos. These years are critical and when our kids see us excited and wanting to make it a memorable time it becomes just as exciting for them.

Discuss Expectations As A Family. Talking to our kids about expectations for the new year will very be important. It can start with sticking to a routine of waking up in the morning, getting dressed and eating breakfast just as a regular school day, or whatever routine works for your children. It is also necessary that we gauge how our kids are doing emotionally and mentally during this time by having an open conversation around expectations. It gives us as parents an opportunity to help them in areas they may be struggling. Kids are missing social interaction with friends, eating lunch together, along with sports and physical activity, so these conversations can also help us try and find safe activities to include as a part of their daily learning schedule that they will enjoy.

Check Your Resources/Find A Tutor. With many districts across the nation converting to a virtual learning model a lot are also providing additional resources, device checkout such as laptops, and virtual appointments with teachers, and support staff. If your child has an IEP, or a specialized learning program, or utilizes a tutor a few times a week, now is the perfect time to begin asking, “What is the plan for my child?” Taking a proactive approach in your child’s learning will play an important role in establishing great communication with new teachers and staff.

Give Yourself Grace. I am pretty sure that even the experts don’t have everything figured out at this point. Decision makers even at the highest levels of government are faced with some of the same decisions as parents. So as a parent give yourself grace. Children usually mimic our responses in the way we react to difficult situations. If we are upset and frustrated, or anxious, our children will reciprocate the behavior. If we are prepared and give ourselves grace for things we may not understand, or a particular subject or assignment, it lets our kids know that as parents although we may juggle many things, we don’t quite have everything figured out. I believe our kids can appreciate this kind of transparency.

Make New Connections. This one happens to be my favorite. With so many of us as parents navigating the same uncharted waters, an exciting new idea is to connect with new mom friends, join a new Facebook group or virtual mom meetup in your neighborhood or community. Many parents are sharing ideas and resources on how to prepare within their own districts. You could also participate in virtual learning swaps. This is where parents take turns on assisting students on scheduled days, coordinated around one another’s work schedules. Not only can this be done safely and virtually, but it can also help your kids make new friends in the neighborhood.

I hope these tips have been helpful as we all begin a new normal for the 2020 school year. This is a great opportunity for all of us to be reminded that we are #inthistogether praying for a new hope and blessed future. xoxo

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