Whether in person, virtual learning or home schooling, back to school looks much different than ever. Here are tips for how get it done and survive Back to School 2020.
Back in March 2020, most of us went to spring break for just a week, never to think we wouldn’t return to our classrooms. We were left with just a few weeks of school, doing whatever it was to make it to the finish line. Yet, here we go again, six months later, except we’re beginning the next “school year” in a different kind of limbo – not just how to complete a school year, but to hopefully educate our kids in the process and not lose our own minds. Welcome to back to school 2o20.
Move over Survivor…you couldn’t make this plot up and every parent is a forced participant. However, we’re all in it together and there are many things we can learn from each other especially with what’s working and what’s not. So here are some of our favorite tips for Back to School in 2020.
#1) How You Choose to School is a Personal Decision.
Back in the good ole days of January 2020…there were basically 3 options for school: there was school, home school and for some kids, virtual learning.
Fast forward to now and we’ve changed all the options and how they work:
- In-Person School: Remember that brick-to-mortar school?
- However, even going back to school includes learning environments with big changes including masks, minimized socializing, no sports, etc.
- Virtual Learning: Coordinating with a school’s curriculum through an online format .
- Some people have referred to this as at-home school, but technically this is virtual learning and differs from home schooling.
- Some kids have chosen to do this for years, but most public schools are new to this and have spent months flipping to this system
- And for some families this has another hybrid using a pod-learning system with one parent acting as “coordinator” for virtual learning for multiple families
- Home schooling: A parent creates and controls the learning flow / environment
- However many of the locations for field trips or on-site learning have changed so those aren’t available for resources for parent-teachers
Whatever option you had to make for back to school in 2020, it wasn’t easy and it doesn’t mean today’s decision is what you’ll end with. 2020 was the atypical year of pivot, change, pivot, change and if there’s any lesson we’ve all learned by now – flexibility is the key and the best plan is one that can change. So don’t judge or be critical of whether you’re doing the “right” thing…just give yourself a break. It’s good to learn from each other and hear all the pros and cons, but feel ok enough that when you come to a decision, you’re good with it and the kids are good with it (as best they can.) AND even more so, that if you change your mind – that’s ok too! There’s no right answer so if you find yourself discussing the same topic with a friend, just make sure to do it with no judgment.
Yes, basically, you do you.
#2) Create a Successful Set Up
Once you’ve made a decision, what’s next? For our school district, everyone is starting online to begin the year so that means everyone has to do it for at least a few weeks. So many parents are sharing their set ups on social media, so places like Facebook Groups, blogs and talking with friends have been my saving grace. Some of bought everything that IKEA and Walmart has online, while others are making use of dining room tables or adding their kids to their own home office set ups. Just remember, it’s about making a space to call your own. In our case we’ve made sure that their learning space isn’t in their bedroom but somewhere they have room to move a little, have access to all their needed supplies like paper, pencils and it’s in some organized fashion. I actually had a friend send this set up to me and I thought it was super resourceful especially for homes where the kid may have to move around when family members are on a call.
Otherwise there are several simple, inexpensive tables for purchase like these and these. This one is just $37 and I love that this desk folds up so if you need to move it for PE or need the space to be flexible. And remember that desk at IKEA? They have many options you can pickup curbside and have ready to roll tonight that are beautiful and have all kinds of drawers this desk folds up
For us and having two kids, that means two desks, two sets of supplies, two of everything. While I’d love if my house had four offices, it’s a house so it doesn’t. Until then, we’re going with something like this after school starts. The reason I’m waiting is you don’t know what’s going to work so until we get rolling, I’m not making any big purchases.
Whatever you do, just make sure the technology works. Everyone on the network is going to cause it to strain especially if you have everything Zooming, streaming and all that at one time. Mesh networks allow your existing WiFi to stretch to areas of the house that might not have the best connection and right now are at an all-time low on Amazon.
#3) Make it Fun
Are we not having fun yet? Well, it should be…at least for the kids! So of course it could be different, but this is it for now and we need to make the best of it. Let the kids help with decor or making their own space – even if it’s a photo, decorating their binder or bringing their dolls to school to make it seem less lonely are all ok. It’s about their comfort level during a not-so-comfortable time.
For us we’re also creating menus just like our school (Taco Tuesday is going into full effect and if I can find the recipe for those rolls the lunch ladies make at the school that would be the best!) Sundays are a great day to prep it all out and get ready for the week, so have them do lunches while you work on dinner! Having their lunches also gives them some “normalcy” so it feels like school.
And theme days – like wear your favorite college shirt or backwards shirt day – is going to be important for keeping the spirit alive and a connection to their school. If you can’t purchase one, it’s time to make one together!
And the best biggest tip is having the schedule posted and quite possibly in multiple places! Having the schedule posted helps to help us remember when it’s time to log in and also when to log out! We all need to remember to walk away and take a break especially when you’re in the same place all the time. Walk around, take a social break (let them call a friend or message them) will also be a good one to keep things in check. Besides, these rules should apply for all of us!
Want to really know the secret to being the best at back to school this year?
Grit and grace.
That’s right. Give it to yourself, give it to others and remember we’re gonna get through this. Just breathe.
(And if you need a mask for you and your kids while you’re breathing away, these come in 10 packs #becausekids.)