27 Aug Back to School in 2021 – Tips for Making It Successful
The pandemic completely shook up the entire education system. Understandably, it took a long time for everyone to adjust. Now though, with schools across the US either committed to opening their doors to full-time in-person learning again, or eyeing up the possibility soon, it’s time for us all to think about how we can ensure that for children, the transition back to school presents much less of a speed bump.
Unfortunately, with daily case numbers still in the tens of thousands in some states and new variants presenting an alarming concern, everyone being in the classroom full-time is still simply not possible in many areas. As a result, we need to also think about how we can support students who will continue to learn either fully remotely or through a hybrid model so they do not fall behind those learning exclusively in person.
Tips for those with children learning in-person full-time
They’ve been out of the classroom a while, so their return isn’t going to come without its challenges, but here are some tips to make it go as swimmingly as possible:
Understanding the rules
Are masks required to be worn at all times? Is there a certain social distance that students need to maintain? If somebody in the school contracts COVID, what happens?
If masks are required, it’s understandable for you to be a little bit nervous — children often find wearing them uncomfortable, especially for long periods. Your best bet is to start slow and build up. Get your child used to wearing it for only 5 minutes at first, then 10 the next, and so on. Before long, they’ll be fully comfortable wearing it for extended periods. Click here for more great tips on how to get children used to wearing masks.
In regards to social distancing, using a piece of string or a measuring tape is a great way to teach your child how much distance they need to maintain from others if there is a required social distancing policy in place.
Keep a close eye on their mental health
In the run-up to your child returning to school, they’re almost guaranteed to be dealing with some anxiety. To make it easier on them mentally, encourage regular discussions where you can address any concerns they may be having.
If your child says she is nervous about seeing everyone at school again because it’s been so long, tell her that as soon as she sees her friends again, it will seem like they were never apart. If your child says he’s worried about catching coronavirus, tell him that by wearing his mask, regularly washing his hands, and practicing good social distancing he’s playing his part in stopping the spread and his chances of getting sick are much smaller.
In the period before they return, consider driving by their school a few times when they’re in the car. Every time you pass by, spark up a conversation about school and be really enthusiastic when doing so. If you’re positive enough, your child will get super excited about talking about all the good times they had at school before the pandemic and all the friends they’re going to be able to see again.
Rebuilding a routine
Throughout the time of remote learning, most children have got used to leading a much less structured life than they ordinarily would.
Many students are now used to waking up quite a bit later than normal. To make sure they’re not super tired during the first few weeks back, you should enforce a strict bedtime that will allow them to get plenty of sleep and wake up with more than enough time to get ready.
The pandemic resulted in a large increase in the amount of time children spend in front of screens because they were using them during school hours and after as a way to socialize with their friends. Now though, they don’t need their devices so much to keep in touch with one another, so consider imposing limits on your child’s screen time, especially around bedtime. Studies show that using screens before bed greatly affects the quality of children’s sleep in a variety of ways. To be sure that they don’t suffer from any of these effects, it is recommended to restrict the use of all electronic devices for at least an hour before bedtime.
Tips for those with children learning remotely or through a hybrid plan
A nice, tidy environment
If possible, your child should have their own dedicated area for learning. To be optimally conducive to learning effectively, it should be free from clutter and anything that may distract them. We all know how much easier it is to work in a space that is well organized — especially those of us who have worked from home remotely over the last several months — and kids are no different.
Children learning online presents its inherent dangers and concerns. While they need the internet to access their learning materials, we need to be aware that its use does not come without risk. Since remote learning began, there has been a significant increase in the number of child predators contacting children online. There are also lots of websites containing a huge amount of content unsuitable for kids and the fact that children who are learning remotely are using their devices for school, as well as for recreation presents a real concern over the amount of screen time they are getting.
Digital wellness tools allow you to manage your child’s online safety and screen time. Here are three of our top picks:
Trend Micro Family for Kids is a real-time image filtering application featuring built-in AI technology. Available for free for both Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge, the solution ensures that children stay safe while surfing the web because explicit content is blurred on their screens immediately.
Google Family Link is another digital wellness solution that shows you which apps your child spends the most time using, lets you limit which apps they’re able to download, and lots more.
Screen Time is easily one of the most popular digital wellness apps available. The free version shows you the breakdown of your child’s app usage, provides you with detailed daily reports, and more, but to gain access to all the features you’ll need to opt for the paid version.
Get out of the house
One of the huge reasons school is so important for children is because they’re able to learn and develop their social skills. For those not returning to full-time in-person education, they’ll unfortunately be missing out on this again.
If this is the case for your child, one thing you can do is plan fun social events. If restrictions allow it and you are comfortable with it, you can arrange times for your child to get together with their school friends. This will allow them all to stay in touch, without needing an electronic device to do so. If restrictions in your area do not allow this, simply going for a stroll around the park can do wonders for their mental health.
We need to be there for them now more than ever
Whether your child is heading back to school full-time or not, there’s no doubt that this school year isn’t going to come without its hurdles. To make it as easy for them to succeed as possible, we all need to do everything to support them as best we can, and employing the tips shared in this article will go a long way in doing so.