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Posted by Richelle Darrell ● Fri, Aug 28, 2020 @ 13:08 PM

Ready or Not, Here We Come! Tips for a successful start to the school year.

In our area, school is scheduled to begin soon. For most, this will be in a new format: distance learning. Many are discussing different avenues than usual - Private school? Public school? Home schooling? "Pods"? New childcare options? All are worried and stressed about education, physical and mental health, our children’s lack of social life, and a variety of other things… the list goes on and on.

It doesn’t help to whine (I know!), and I truly believe that we need to put our best foot forward with this new format. It’s not going to be perfect, but what is? One of the tips shared in this helpful article about managing back-to-school stress and anxiety is to remember the need to be positive in front of our children. "Kids pick up on their parents’ well-being," so thinking and speaking positively about these changes will be best for everyone.

We have two boys in high school. I’m not sure about you, but this past spring when we suddenly moved into this format, I was not at all clear on how to proceed. The path forward was muddy. Now, there are so many resources on social media, youtube, health blogs, etc., it can be hard to wade through them all. I’m still not an expert, but this time I have a plan.  Maybe some of these ideas will work for you, too!

1. Start this school year with grace: for your child(ren), for teachers, and for yourself. We are all experiencing a great number of new stresses and no one is an expert. You will have good days and bad days, and both are okay.

2. Stick to a schedule. Creating routines helps to "provide structure, safety, boundaries, and a sense of familiarity, which in turn decreases a child’s stress." In our house, that includes showering, getting dressed, eating breakfast, brushing their teeth, and being set up to start school at 8 am. Believe me, I’ve thought that it may be nice to just let them sleep in so that I can get my work done without the distraction of sibling fighting, but that wouldn’t be beneficial to anyone in the long run!

3. Identify your child's home learning space. Depending on your home set up, your child's age, or the type of learning they're doing, this can vary greatly. My boys have desks set up in their respective bedrooms (they can't work successfully in the same space!). That will be their classroom, with their doors open.  They will have headphones and they won't have games in their rooms (Fortnight, Minecraft, etc.), an effort to help manage distractions. Many schools are sending out supply lists or having students pick up supply packages from school to assist in home learning. Keep those items in mind as well as you prepare a dedicated learning space.

4. Familiarize yourself with any new systems or tech. Our school is using a new online platform this year called Schoology. It's designed to let parents know which assignments are due, grades, etc. Everything will all be in one place, updated regularly, and teachers will use only this platform. I’m going to do my best to learn how Schoology works and check it daily. There are helpful tutorials to follow and many schools will host webinars or provide a school rep to contact with questions. Your student might be a helpful resource as well!

5. Connect with your child's education team. Maybe that's through platforms like Remind, Google Classroom, Schoology, phone calls, texting, or video calls. For me, that means I will have all the teachers on email "speed dial!" and I'll let teachers know in advance that it's the best way to reach me. My boys are learning how to advocate for themselves, but that is still a work in progress. I am my child’s best advocate, and clear communication will be a key piece of the puzzle this fall with so many new things to consider. 

6. That grace thing again. After indicating #5, always remember that the teachers are also trying to figure this all out and they are doing their best! Some are using new technology for the first time. Some are adapting lessons they've used for years to be compatible with online learning. Some are brand new teachers who never expected their first year to look like this. And, some are trying to teach with children at home - little ones who need care and older ones who are managing their own remote learning. Gosh, again it’s not perfect!

7. Connect with other parents. You may have a friend group, church community, or other group that gives you the chance to process through the challenges we're all facing. Pecometh is partnering with a team of facilitators to provide that opportunity to virtually get together with other parents and talk. Parenting Through Pandemic! is a free interactive webinar series starting September 20th. It's open to all parents, grandparents, guardians or anyone who is dealing with children during the pandemic. None of us are experts, we've never been through this before, but perhaps together we can help each other find strategies to survive and thrive!

Pecometh can also offer you a place to de-stress. Need a walk? Want to sit by the river and just “be”? Visit our website to sign up for some time out of the house at a lovely location by the river. Think about some time for yourself – you are going to need it. Blessings for a great school year! 

Pecometh… Together. Apart. Deep down in our hearts.

Topics: How To, Parenting, COVID-19