By Jenny Hasting
As the school year approaches, we understand more clearly how the pandemic will affect our children’s re-entry to school. And it is clear that it will not be “ordinary”. Our school officials have given serious consideration to the health and safety of the students and school personnel but many unknowns remain. Our best plan is to stay informed and flexible. Here are some points to consider:
- Accept that change has and will be imposed by the urgent issues around the pandemic. That much is already evident in most parts of our lives. Parents have always been instrumental to school success and counted as significant partners but the likelihood of “learning at home” increases the role in important ways. More supervision and accountability rests with parents now. Now, more daily teaching will fall to many parents.
- Make a plan for incorporating online learning in your home. Last spring was not a true experience for most students…..instruction was limited, requirements for completed work was spotty, and feedback from teachers was incomplete. It all seemed temporary and short-term. The 2020-21 school year will be defined differently. Many children need supervision while tuning in to online lessons to maintain attention and follow through. This may necessitate a home office to be set up in a family area which then will require that the typical activities for these areas (cooking, TV, phone, barking dogs) need to be adjusted. Be sure you have power sources, printers and paper, Internet stability, and earphones available for use as needed.
- Monitoring progress is more essential than ever. Regular communication with teachers will be even more important. More understanding by parents of the instructional goals and demands will ensure your ability to help.
- Some things have not changed. The child who struggled to work independently will still need support. The child who had skill deficits in reading, writing, comprehending, computation, etc. will still need support. The child who has low motivation, performance anxiety or achievement “depression” will still need behavior plans or other support resources. Covid 19 did not take away these issues.
- Parents who are learning to work from home and who have increased duties for domestic maintenance can quickly reach stress limits. Ask for help. Sheltering at home complicates having others in your home so teleteaching may be necessary. However accomplished, tutors and learning therapists may make the difference in success. Many educational professionals are concerned that students will lose much during this time: socializing, sports, arts, and normalcy. Until we can safely reinstate these activities, we can only do our best and hang in there.
- Find a silver lining. This may be the most challenging task of all!