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School this year may look different for some, if not most of us. However, one thing remains constant: our priority should always be the kids and their well-being. Whether there is a global pandemic to contend with or we simply must manage work-life balance, the focus we give to our children and our support should always be there.
So, we crafted a few tips to help you support your grade school-age children, especially during these uncertain times. Take whatever applies to your family and make the most of it. We are rooting for you! You got this!
Most kids are updated about current affairs. They hear stories from the news and read about them online, but what do they make of it all?
As a parent, you can put the information they learn from outside sources into proper context to help it make sense. Sometimes this task is easier said than done, but it helps to break a huge amount of information into bite-size pieces.
So, gather the whole family and have a healthy discussion about the pandemic and how it affects social interaction in school, in recreational places, and even at home. Most importantly, explain why certain measures are necessary and set the right expectations.
It is easier to get positive results when everybody is on board, so keep communication lines open and always pay attention to children’s verbal and nonverbal communication cues.
New routines can be stressful so prepare well in advance. Having a planner will help you run things smoothly at home. Do not get any planner, get one that will add value to your day-to-day activities and can be easily shared with the rest of the family.
A weekly menu organizer, for instance, will help you manage your creative food ideas, rotate food varieties, ensure your family is getting nutritious food, and save you time and money. Hang it in your kitchen where it is visible and accessible for your family.
Plan your lessons if you are homeschooling. If you need materials or resources that you do not have at home, secure them in advance so things will go seamlessly in your class. Nothing is more distracting than stopping lessons every now and then to get items that you need.
If you are comfortable with apps, look for project management tools to help you manage your daily tasks and your children’s school activities.
Set and enforce a balanced routine as early as possible. Routines help kids deal with expectations, eliminate surprises and tantrums, and promote healthy emotional and cognitive development.
A daily morning and bedtime routine chart will help your child start their day right and transition easily into the night.
Mealtime, study, homeschooling, and play / recreation should all be parts of a healthy home routine. Screen time, on the other hand, should be regulated. If you meet resistance from your kids, be kind and patient but be firm and consistent in your approach.
A first day of school sign is not just a cute photo prop. It is an awesome way to celebrate your child’s achievement, that is, starting a new grade level. Remember how it felt like? Even the most camera-shy of kids love to have their photos taken with a colorful first-day-of-school sign, so do not skip this small celebration.
If you are homeschooling this year, try to make this first-day-of-school tradition more fun and meaningful. After all, it may be your first time as a homeschool teacher or facilitator too.
Celebrating small and big wins is particularly important. It motivates children to continue doing their best in school and at home, but be careful not to ignore children’s efforts even when they are far off their mark.
A child who finally spells a certain word right when he or she usually gets it wrong deserves a pat on the back, a high five, or a hug. A child who does not get it right even after a hundred tries still deserves the same.
Be quick to recognize effort when you see it.
Studies show that clutter affects mood and behavior, so make sure you do not neglect clutter at home, especially in your study or homeschool area. The best way to manage household clutter is to organize things properly, sorting things that should be kept, sold, or donated.
When sorting your kid’s belongings, ask him or her to help. Encourage your child to donate books, toys, clothes, etc. that may have been overgrown. Sometimes they cling to certain toys just like adults who have a hard time letting go of some things. The best thing to do is to respect their feelings.
Keeping toys and school supplies in one corner also helps to manage clutter. If you have a dedicated schoolroom, keep your school supplies, books, and similar items in there and teach kids to return things to their rightful places.
Having storage bins or baskets also helps to keep clutter at bay. Get baskets for plushies and Legos and bins for art supplies or use color-coded folders and file organizers for school printouts.
Find a system that will work for you and your family.
Children need social interaction for the development of their EQ and IQ. Unfortunately, social distancing is part of the new normal, so it is up to parents to help kids deal with this reality.
The good news is, keeping friendships and making new ones are not impossible. One way to make new friends is by joining online groups. There are many children’s groups you can choose from, especially on Facebook and other social media platforms. Ask your child about his or her interests and give them time to explore different groups.
However, do not throw established routines out the window just because you want your child to interact with children his age online. Screen time should still be regulated, and other routines should not be compromised.
You may also ask other parents and their kids to hang out with you and your child online. Zoom, Google Hangouts, Skype are few apps that can help you stay connected with friends. Indeed, if there is a will, there is a way.
The new school year may be overwhelming, especially if it is your first-time homeschooling or you must juggle homeschool mom duties and work. But take heart, you will get the hang of it.