How Do You Spell Back to School Success?

With the end of summer comes the familiar anticipation of preparing for a new school year. Typically, these days are filled with open houses, learning bus routes, school shopping, and meeting new friends. While many schools are open for classroom learning at least in some capacity, around the world, back to school still looks very different in 2020. With virtual learning as the standard for the foreseeable future, it’s only natural that parents would feel the weight (and inadequacy) of ensuring their children are successfully schooled at home. We’re making much of it up as we go, but here are a few tips to help you and your child(ren) spell SUCCESS, and make the most of the coming school days.

For many parents, it may be preferable to keep your children at home to ensure their safety and well-being. Children also, may enjoy the flexibility of being home, not having to get up as early, etc. That said, children are creatures of habit, and despite any pushback you may receive, they tend to thrive with structure. Traditional school days are scheduled and planned with a level of consistency that allows children to become comfortable and confident in knowing what to expect. Have your child get dressed for school. If you can, designate “school space” in your home. Take care to put some structure and boundaries in place, so your children still feel the significance of their learning time.

Chances are, you are not a teacher. Chances are, there are things your child(ren) will encounter in their learning that you don’t remember or have maybe never seen before. This can feel intimidating and overwhelming for some parents, and can result in frustration for both you and your child. Do yourself a favor, and extend some grace – for yourself, your child, and your child’s teacher. None of us have been here before. Keep that in mind as you go, and do the best you can.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed with keeping your kids focused while juggling your own workload and other responsibilities, imagine 20-30! Your child’s teacher has the responsibility of trying to keep a virtual classroom of students engaged for an extended period of time, with no control of the environment they are learning from. This is where you come in. Try to minimize distractions and background noise in your child’s learning space. Respect the teacher’s time as if your child were present in an actual classroom, saving meals and snacks for the designated times, and encouraging your child to engage and behave as if they were attending class in person.

Whether your kids are attending traditional school, virtual school, or some combination of the two, recognize the challenges and celebrate the wins along the way. It’s easy to get focused on the places where there may be a struggle. When your child does well, celebrate him/her and offer encouragement. Keep your feedback constructive and focus on doing the next thing, then the next.

Our present, pandemic-driven realities are not ideal, but they are what they are. Focus your energy on the things you can control. If home school or partial home school is the decision, embrace it without complaint, and set out to make the most of the situation. There will be additional things that change and develop in the coming days, so keep yourself open to evaluate what’s working, what’s not, and make a shift when needed. Staying focused on what you can control will considerably reduce your stress level, as well as your kids’.

You don’t have to do this alone! Your child’s school has likely set up multiple opportunities for parents and students to receive additional support. Also remember that the other parents in your neighborhood are dealing with the same challenges. Reach out and lean on each other, perhaps creating small study groups, play dates or social time. Leverage your community and be open to offer your support as well. We’re all in this together.

Last but not least, remember that schooling at home offers some conveniences, but there truly needs to be a separation between “school time” and “home time”. Allow your child to put away school-related items and come away from the designated “school space” once the school day is over and homework is done. Just as we need to maintain work/life/home balance, our children do as well. Allow them the space to really “be home” when it’s’ time to be home.