No matter how you plan to do school this 2020-2021 school year, there are many things you can do to set your kid up for success!
Whether you are a new or seasoned homeschooling family, a distance learning family, or going back to school in person, this year is going to look different than it ever has before.
I think at this point in 2020 we are all pretty used to things changing constantly. We also know full well that we need to expect the unexpected.
So how do you adequately prepare your children for something when you have no idea what is going to happen?
I have some ideas.
This is a challenging year for us all in many ways. We don’t have our neighbor down the road who has been there and done that to give us perfect advice.
There is no YouTube video showing us how. No blogger with sage advice.
We are all newbies.
At the same time.
I have pondered on this and have some thoughts and tips to share.
Be Optimistic But Honest
I have seen a lot of advice to be super pumped and excited about whatever rules and changes your children are facing this year.
I love the idea to be optimistic, but we need to be careful.
Children aren’t idiots. They know when things are off. They also have feelings that need to be validated.
So I have been optimistic, but honest.
When I found out my kids would be wearing masks all day, I didn’t talk about how amazing it would be to wear masks all day.
I also didn’t rant about it.
I just told them that was the requirement.
Do you know what they said?
Essentially they will do whatever it takes to go back to school.
I wasn’t sure if classes would have recess with each other at all this year. One of Brinley’s best friends is in another class. One day she was talking about what they would do at recess.
I told her she needed to be prepared that she might not get to have recess with that friend this year.
I didn’t add any feelings on to that statement. I just told her what it was. She accepted it.
So just be careful that you don’t lead your child to dislike a situation she would otherwise just roll with. State facts without adding if it is good or bad.
If your child is having a hard time with something and is sharing that with you, validate those feelings.
- I know it gets hard to wear a mask all day.
- I know you really miss seeing your friends. That must be sad for you.
- I am sorry that you miss doing XYZ. I miss doing things, too.
You don’t say:
- Wearing a mask all day is super amazing! You should LOVE it!
- I don’t blame you–wearing a mask is so dumb and you shouldn’t have to do it.
As I say this, you might be thinking, “But my kid will change her attitude right away if I spin it.” If that is the case, go for it. You know your child best.
Just be sure you allow your child to feel and process emotions. We don’t get over things by burying them or pretending everything is fine. We need to feel them to get over them.
Show Bright Side
While you want to validate your child and let her feel things, it is great to introduce a bright side. Help train her to recognize there are always good things to find in situations.
- I know you really miss seeing your friends. That must be sad for you. I have missed my friends, too. But something I have loved is that I get to see so much more of YOU!
The other day, Kaitlyn and I talked about how often she might be sent home to do distance learning as people need to quarantine when there are positive cases. She felt concerned and frustrated by the prospect.
I told her she would actually probably love it. It would be little mini-vacations from going to school every once in a while. She thought about it and agreed. She remembered that there are stretches when you just really want to stay home or sleep in or something.
We were able to find the bright side to the situation.
For years, I have said to my children each morning as they leave the house:
“Come what may and love it!”
I remember when I heard Joseph B. Worthlin say that more than a decade ago. It touched me so much that it became our family mantra.
We have never had to cling to that more than we do right now.
>>>Read: How To Do A Preschool Homeschool
Mentally Prepare for the Uknown
My talent is in planning ahead and executing my plan. Doing things last minute is very hard for me!
But I have felt for the last 8 years that the Lord has been putting me in situations to learn to be more flexible and roll with things.
Our children need to be ready to deal with the unknown.
We don’t know what will happen. We need to do the best we can with what we have.
Even my friends who are seasoned homeschoolers talk about unknowns they are facing this year. No matter your situation, you have things that could change at any moment.
Make sure your kids know things will change. We don’t know what, but they only sure thing is there will be changes.
Let them know that when that happens, you will all “Come what may and love it” and figure out how to roll with it. You will make it work and adjust.
Establish a Routine
Kids thrive on routine and predictability. Provide some structure and routine where you can right now.
Have a morning routine so each day has a similar flow. We love our morning routine cards to keep us on track each morning.
If you will be doing home school or distance learning, you can still have a morning routine. You can be super structured about it or do more of a block schedule–do what works best for your family.
Control what you can control and keep some things predictable and reliable so your kids have anchors to hold.
You know your kids best and know how much structure is best for them.
If your child will be facing new situations, be sure to practice them before school starts.
I have seen many teacher recommend you practice masks at home before sending them to school Someone clever suggested you require kids to wear masks when doing electronics at home, which I find genius.
We have been able to go to church a few times and wear masks there. The first day, Brinley was playing with her mask and covering her whole face. At one point she pulled her mask down to sneeze. Face palm!
But we talked about it. I corrected her. I am happy to say that last Sunday she sneezed with her mask in place.
Run through what you can so your child can feel prepared and in control of as much as possible.
Distance Learning Concerns
I have heard from several of you that you are concerned about your kids being able to learn enough through distance learning.
I have had the same concerns.
Our Superintendent has stated that distance learning will look much different this year if it comes to that.
Schools and teachers were given mere days to throw stuff together last spring. They have now had months to prepare mentally and physically.
So have we parents.
We very strongly considered homeschooling this year for a myriad of obvious reasons. A couple of high reasons were to have as much control as possible and also to be able to ensure things were rigorous enough.
In the end, through prayer, we felt it was best to plan to send the kids back to school.
But being the over-preparer that I am, I have naturally thought about a plan for what to do if we end up needing to do distance learning (or maybe I should say when we need to? Come what may and love it!).
Our plan is to have the kids do their distance learning and fulfill their class requirements. If there is a class or subject we feel like needs more emphasis “in person,” we will supplement at home.
How blessed are we that we are experiencing this Pandemic in our modern age when we have endless resources and information available to us right over the internet? We can get so many helps and ideas online.
I have also talked with my neighbors about helping teach each other’s kids if needed. I have some amazing neighbors with incredible skills.
Even if we are supplementing in subjects not related to their school curriculum, the kids are still being challenged and growing!
One neighbor has a degree in horticulture and is an amazing pruner. I was talking with his wife and said, “Wouldn’t it be amazing if all the kids in our neighborhood became fruit tree pruning experts? We would be set!”
If your children are doing distance learning, find ways to challenge them and expand their mind at home. Think outside the box. Train them to be successful adults when they move out. Let them pursue a hobby they never have had time for. They can challenge their minds in so many ways.
As I attending our first PTO meeting for the year yesterday, our principal commented that many things will change this year. Many activities will be cancelled. But many things can go on with some tweaking and some creative thinking.
Encourage your kids to “come what may and love it.” Find the bright side to your situations. Find ways to make things work fro your family. You can have a great year, no matter what it looks like!
That doesn’t mean it will be super easy and all sunshine and rainbows. But you can make it a time you look back on with fondness. You will remember the good times and you will recognize how you grew through the hard times.