Getting into Back to School #HomeSafe Mode – You’ve Got This

In just a few weeks a brand new school year will begin, challenged by a pandemic that has forced every family to create workarounds. Many parents like you seek ways to give their children the tools and activities needed for a positive learning experience in these unusual times. Until we return to a pre-Covid world, we’d like to share some ideas to create an environment that helps your children focus on their schoolwork so they do not miss out on the experiences necessary for their progress.

  • Establish a new routine of back to school – with a pandemic twist – that’s right for your children. Create and stick to a daily schedule just like you would if you were taking your children to a school building.
  • During school days set the tone for your family. Make sure they are up and dressed, and that they have something to eat so they can concentrate on their schoolwork.
  • Ask yourself, ‘where in our home can each of my children have their own space to work without interruptions and distractions?’.  It may be that a separate room is not an option, so it’s time to get creative.  Find a balance between creating a quiet space that also provides some ability for supervision.
  • Each child should have his or her own designated spot, even if it’s only a small corner in a room. Explain that this is dedicated to him or her until regular school resumes. Make whatever space is chosen special.  It’s their space and please reinforce the idea that it is his or hers alone.  (You can buy, make or simply place a favorite item there.) Your children could make their own signs, or this could be a joint activity for you and them.
  • Regarding your children’s school supplies, shop for items on the school’s checklist and place them in a backpack or other bag that can be hung on the back of their chair in the designated space.  Include some snacks, or a special surprise. If children have to share a space with siblings, make sure that each child understands that their siblings’ areas are off limits.
  • If you can, monitor your children’s times for learning, exercise and breaks, including lunch.
  • For younger children who are not engaged in a teacher-led session, consider 20 minutes of class assignments followed by 10 minutes of physical activity.
  • Older children and teens should be able to focus on their assignments for longer periods; they should take a break between subjects.
  • If you are working from home, take your break when your children have theirs. Build into your schedule movement breaks and snack breaks, where all of you walk away from the technology for a breather.
  • Last, but not least, maintain a positive attitude, especially in front of your children, who are quick to sense unease in their environment.  Feeling frustrated is understandable, but making angry comments about the system and its teachers in front of your child will be a barrier to the learning experience. Better to spend your energy supporting your loved ones and keeping yourself calm.  As our British cousins say, ‘keep calm and carry on’.

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