Navigating the School Year During COVID
This year’s back-to-school season looks different for most families, and with these changes come new challenges. Across the country, schools are using different platforms to learn based on the area’s COVID case numbers. If your kid is learning virtually, we’ve gathered some ideas to help you navigate at-home learning. And if your student is attending school in the classroom, we’ve included some suggestions to help your family.
Open the Conversation
Before you make a plan for virtual learning, talk to your kids about this school year. If they learned at home last year, ask them what they liked and disliked. Ask them what they miss about school; they may miss their friends or doing extra-curricular activities. Keep this in mind when making a plan.
Also, make sure you are communicating with your children about the coronavirus. Your kids may have questions – and you may not have all the answers – but it’s important to start the conversation. You can update your kids as more information is released.
Set Up a Space That Allows Hands-On Learning
You may have thrown together a learning area last spring. For this year, make a few adjustments to allow hands-on learning or stations for different activities. Younger kids may enjoy reading on a beanbag or doing crafts on the floor. Older kids may like to use a standing desk or sitting on a balance ball chair. If you have more than one kid at home, make sure each one has their own space. And teach them to clean up their area before a break or at the end of the “school day.”
Set Hours and Device Expectations
Kids thrive on consistency. Create a school-like schedule for your little ones and display it in their learning area. Set aside time for each subject and a time to check in with your kids about how they’re feeling. You can create a mood board, a poster with a list of feelings, to check in with them. This way your kids can indicate if they feel happy, anxious, etc.
While you’re making a schedule, set time limits on screen time. Make sure your little one takes breaks to play and eat. After the “school day,” you may have to limit TV or iPad time.
Supplement Your Kids’ Learning
If your child is struggling or you’re looking for help, check out the resources listed on our blog. You’ll find ideas for how to boost your child’s reading and math skills.
Look for Safe Opportunities to be Active and Social
Make sure your kids are getting a little bit of exercise each day. According to the Centers for Disease Controls and Prevention, preschool-aged kids need to be active throughout the day and older children (age 6-17) should aim for one hour of exercise each day. This could include dancing, walking around the block, or practicing yoga.
Also, make sure your kids are still seeing their teacher and friends. Set up regular FaceTime or Zoom calls. This will help your kids maintain their social skills and build a support group for your family.
Discuss the Safety Precautions
If your child is attending school in person, they need to know what safety precautions to take and the reasons behind these practices. Explain why they need to wear a mask, take their temperature, and stay six feet away from people. Make sure you communicate all of their school’s safety precautions and continue to remind your kids to follow them.
Practice Wearing a Mask
Wearing a mask is an adjustment for everyone, especially kids. Help them adjust by practicing wearing a mask outside of school. Normalize wearing masks by putting masks on your kid’s stuffed animals. Also, decorate your kids’ masks so they look forward to wearing them.
Remind Your Kids of the Symptoms
Whether your kids are learning at school at home, they need to know symptoms: fever, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue. See all the symptoms here.