5 Tips for Going Back to School in a Pandemic
5 Tips for Going Back to School in a Pandemic
Across the country, students are starting to head back to school for the first day of school that looks different from ever before. There’s no question that all of the options available pose new and difficult challenges this year, but students and teachers alike – and parents too – are learning to adapt to the new realities. Here are some tips to help your child thrive in school this year.
- Accept that no matter how your district is approaching it, the school won’t be the same.
- Approach school with the same work ethic.
- Turn on the camera.
- Stay organized
- Keep moving
Learning online is obviously different from the norm. What some people don’t realize is that going back to school buildings this year won’t look “normal” either. Some districts will have students stay at their distanced desks in one classroom all day, even for lunch. Social interactions will be minimized and likely fraught with stress. The group activities that teachers have learned to build into lessons to get students interested and engaged may not happen the same ways this year. In fact, most work may be done on the computer to avoid passing papers back and forth. Gym, library, art, band, chorus, and language classes pose special challenges.
The one thing that will be the same, however, is teachers’ dedication and creativity. They are doing their best to adapt and provide educational and engaging lessons for their students. A positive attitude on all sides will help foster success.
Even for adults, it’s tempting to multitask or zone out during online meetings. If your child is learning online, you’ll increase her chance of success if you set expectations and create a space that fosters concentration and productivity.
Not every home lends itself to an ideal separate workspace, but it’s important to make sure that your child is at least sitting at a table, not on the couch, or even lying in bed. (It happens!) If he’s at a desk, he’ll be more mentally and physically prepared to participate and do the activities—plus he’ll be more likely to stay awake.
Next, it will help to set the expectation that attendance is important – even if the class is online. If work schedules prevent attending online classes live as they’re presented, it may be possible to watch recordings, but your child may miss out on the benefit of taking part in interactive activities and asking questions; connecting with a classmate to study might help. Speaking of asking questions, encourage your child to speak up, volunteer, and ask for clarification. It may seem counterintuitive since kids socialize on their phones all day, but it can be intimidating to speak up in class online. But your child will benefit much more if she takes part.
Most of us don’t like to be on camera (even teachers!), but many teachers consider it critical for students to turn on their cameras. One reason is that it allows students and teachers to connect and develop the relationships that prove time and time again to predict success. Students also benefit from seeing each other, and they’re more likely to participate if they’re already visible to each other. Teachers also learn a lot from seeing students’ facial expressions – they can tell if they’re confused or bored and alter the lesson accordingly. Many students are shy to speak out or admit if they don’t understand, but facial expressions tell a lot. With the camera on, the teacher can see if students’ eyes are glazing over and draw them back into the lesson. Teachers are often experts at reading a room and engaging their students, but that’s impossible if they can’t see them.
The other reason the camera is helpful is that it helps keep students accountable. With the camera off, it’s easy to get up for a snack, lay down on the couch, take a nap, text friends, or play video games. The camera helps keep them present, both physically and mentally.
There’s no doubt that it’s confusing to keep track of seven or eight class links, plus the assignments for each class, which may be presented on multiple different platforms. If your school isn’t already helping students get organized, you can help your child create a document where all the links are stored. That way, it’s easy to find the right one every time.
Also, it’s just as important as ever to write down each assignment on an agenda or even a phone calendar. This way the student can stay on top of deadlines and nothing will slip through the cracks.
Whether your child is attending school in person or online, there may be more sitting than usual this year. Encourage activity whenever possible. Even just getting up, stretching, or bouncing around the house on a bouncy ball can wake a child up and give his break a break. With online learning, recess can be any time between or after classes this year – and we might as well embrace all the silver linings we find.
At Guidance Residential, we wish you a happy, healthy, and productive school year!
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