It's hard to believe back to school is just around the corner. Last year was a challenging year for many students, teachers and parents. We seem to be turning a corner when it comes to this recent pandemic, but there is still much uncertainty that we are dealing with. Questions we are asking – will kids need to wear masks? Is there a risk of another shut down? Do kids have the option of schooling online? Is one better than the other? Will they have a normal year when it comes to extracurricular activities etc.?
On top of that, our concerns around our children's physical health and safety is at the forefront of everything. So, if we are worried as adults, we can't imagine the emotional toll is has taken and is taking on our young ones.
As any mother would (or maybe it is just us) – we went to google! We read through many different articles, and some scared the sh*t out of us, but we also found some helpful tips that we think might be good to keep in mind as we approach the 2021-2022 school season.
The overall sentiment is to keep the lines of communication open. Have conversations. Ask the tough and not so tough questions. Share ideas of how to make it a successful school year. Here are some tips to get you thinking:
Address nervous feelings
It will be normal for you to feel anxious. I know I do. Also, don't dismiss your child's feelings. We all know that kids are resilient, and they are often stronger than we give them credit for – however, if they express anxiousness or hesitancy – create a safe space for them to elaborate on these feelings. And even though you also might be feeling stressed, do your best to set a positive time about the year ahead. Reassure them that you are there anytime they need to talk and together you will work out whatever could be worrying them.
For young kids going to school for the first time or going to a different school – develop a special phrase/words of encouragement. Using a beloved ritual will reinforce that bond and reassure them that they are safe and loved. For instance, with my girls – I always give them a big hug and tell them to be "good, brave and kind". With my older daughter I often yell out loud that I love her and for her to have a great day. We laugh about it, because it embarrasses her, but I know she secretly loves it. I often find her walking slowly and waiting for me to do it if I don't yell for all the neighbours to hear right away 😊
Being ready and prepared instills that extra bit of confidence
All kids, no matter the grade, or whether it was public school or private school etc – likely suffered the inconsistency of schooling last year. Many parents are worried whether or not their child us behind academically or socially. Or wondering if there was a learning loss or if they will be able to make friends after being so isolated for so long. I want to tell you that regardless of whether learning came from a book or not – there was a lot of learnings for all of us through this pandemic. If you think about it, they have found new ways to collaborate, gain new perspectives, negotiate time management, flexible thinking, problem solving and so much more.
Some tips I read for school readiness over the summer included:
Play: allow your child to play (indoor and outdoor). You may not realize it, but playing and using their imagination allows them to practice literacy, problem solving, develop emotional skills, creativity and collaboration
Encourage independence: use this summer to encourage your children to try new things as well as learn how to do different things for themselves. This can include tying their own shoes to completing more significant chores around the house. Projects such as puzzles or building something in the backyard.
Reading: encourage your child(ren) to read over the summer. And take the time to discuss what they have read (you may want to read the same book). Then discuss it. You can talk about the characters' behavior to how the book made them feel. What they liked about it, what they would have done differently. Ask them open ended questions about what they think will happen next? Or if they were the character, what they would do in that same circumstance.
Math: the word "math in the summer" could be worse than a string of curse words for my children. However, math is a part of our daily lives. Try to weave in not only literacy, but math into day to day activities. Cooking with measurements together. Building a project that requires specific instructions. Going for a walk with younger children and having them count or write down what they see.
Routines and schedules will save you
Establishing a routine and developing a schedule together will help you and your child(ren) get prepared for the school year ahead. Have a conversation with your family to come up with what might work, and what hasn't worked. Then together, establish clear routines that will help make day to day decision making seamless. For instance, morning checklists such as: make your bed, brush our teeth, get dressed, pack your school bag, breakfast etc. For other commitments, you can outline daily routines that might include after school activities and homework etc.
Before the first day of school, make sure you have put this routine into practice. Wake up early, go to bed on time, pack lunches, set out clothes for the next day.
As mentioned above – EARLY TO BED. We all get carried away with our summer hours. Watching TV and movies late at night. Eating later. Going out with friends and visiting family until the wee hours of the morning. However, everyone (including parents) have to get back into routine. Therefore, spend a few days before the start of school to get your sleep schedules back on track. Early to bed, early to rise.
Communicate with your Child's Teacher
Our teachers were heroes this past year. Navigating the changing landscape that was online and in-person schooling. This year it will be just as important for parents and teachers to work together. So don't hesitate to establish a communication and rapport with your child's teachers. Find out how they prefer to be reached and keep in touch as you have questions. Be collaborative with the teachers. Be open-minded and together any problems that arise can be mitigated early. Support should also go both ways. Teachers supporting the student and their families, and the families supporting the teachers and the school. Express gratitude and encourage your child to speak about any learnings or opportunities they would like to address. Most importantly – your child(ren)'s best interest is a priority!
And remember, helping your children navigate different phases of schooling will always require making time to talk about school, getting involved as much as you can with the school community, and most importantly, making sure that family home is a safe place where the children feel safe, listened to, and respected.
content sourced from Bright Horizons
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