Back To School is on everybody’s mind at this time. Parents and Educators alike are all wondering how best to navigate the current state of affairs. As a parent and an Educator, I am juggling both roles and coming to grips with the fact that there will be many things out of my control. I could offer my professional advice but no one asked for that so I have decided to offer what I hope will be some perspective to help us as parents and guardians as we begin a new school year.
Now more than ever, kindness matters. As an Educator, I am often placed in a position to put the needs of other people’s children before my own. Parents/guardians should consider this and show compassion to Educators who are also dealing with the impact of this new normal. Consider that Educators have children too that they may very well be caring for while they are caring for your children whether remote or in-person. Extend this same compassion to your children and most importantly yourself. These are very challenging times. Considering the needs of others is critical.
Many schools and school systems are still in the preparation phase for the upcoming year. Many existing structures were not designed to accommodate this major shift. Various factors have to be considered such as finance, staff allotment, health/safety measures, curriculum and instruction resources and availability of those resources, technology, and the list goes on. Exercising patience will be extremely important as Educators will likely be placed in positions to make final decisions and preparations at the 11th hour. Again, extend this patience to your children and yourself.
Along the lines of exercising patience, we will need to prioritize being flexible. This is extremely important as many schools will begin the year in remote learning with plans to re-enter pending health and safety. Anytime technology is involved, roadblocks will occur. Even the best structures can have drawbacks and challenges. Do your best to avoid coming undone and provide an example of how to pivot for your children if unexpected changes occur. If schools should return to normal function, parents should be prepared to help their children make the transition back as this will be a huge shift for them and a huge undertaking for schools.
This is a great time for parents/guardians to partner with schools in authentic ways. Avoid the temptation to speak negatively in public forum such as social media about schools and school systems. If there is a concern, find an appropriate way to voice that concern and be prepared to offer solutions. Determine the best way to communicate with assigned staff and keep the lines of communication open. This is also a great time for parents/guardians to join together with others in your circle who are having similar experiences. Leverage expertise, consider sharing resources, and/or starting support groups to help each other navigate this situation.
This crisis has revealed the importance of parental involvement in the educational process. Parents/guardians play a critical role and it is important that as parents we hold ourselves accountable in word and in action. What does this look like? Create a learning environment that is suitable for the needs of your children and your household. Make sure that you are aware of the daily schedule and functioning of your child’s school(s). Ensure that your children are as engaged as possible in learning. Follow through on any assignments and requests from the school as it pertains to parents/guardians. Start with these suggestions and make adjustments/additions as needed.
Back To School for the 2020/2021 school year will be memorable for all. Best wishes to every Parent, Student, and Educator!