The New Norm of School – How We Adjust Helps Us Overcome the Difficulties

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There once was a time when school-aged children would wake up groggily in the early morning only to get excited at the prospect of seeing their friends on their school’s playground. Even the knowledge of after school homework didn’t deter children from wanting to go to school. Now, with the global pandemic leaving all of us virtually defenseless, our children are left with very little options in the fall: return to school with the possibility of contracting the virus, 100% online learning, or a hybrid learning curriculum.

Gone are the days of sitting with their friends at lunch time or skipping on the blacktop while playing made-up games with their buddies. Now, with the fear of COVID-19 spreading to children, their families, and school staff, going back to school can look quite different this year. And depending on which state or country you live in, varying styles of back to school leaves us all scratching our heads on what is the best way to send our kids back. If you’re in one of the higher cases states, forget about going back to public school in person. These states just don’t want to risk anyone’s health.

So what can a family do at a time of crisis? Back in March, when we were all deciding on what to do with school admist the rising cases throughout the US, most school districts adopted a “crisis” learning where districts did not punish those who were having a hard time adjusting to suddenly learning everything online, instead of in a traditional classroom. As a mom, I have to tell you that the “crisis” learning was a huge adjustment. But now, just a couple weeks until school resumes, I find that crisis learning was probably a lot easier. Because now with the start of the new school year, our kids have to actually learn while staring at a computer all day and virtually interact with their teachers. This is going to be extremely difficult for those who have learning difficulties and those with several siblings near the same age. We as parents (and if you’re not already a teacher) have to basically monitor our children in front of their computers making sure they are actually paying attention and not falling off the grid. But what other choices do you have, really?

Like most parents, we all want our children to succeed in school and life in general. We want them to learn all that they can while at school and enrich themselves with new and interesting ideas and prospects. But when you’re stuck at home learning via a computer, kids just don’t get the same kind of excitement as they would on campus. It’s just how most kids are hardwired and how they’ve come to recognize as how a school environment should be. But, as a parent, the best we can do at the moment is to teach our kids to believe in themselves and that perhaps the hardest lesson in life is to… adjust. Yes, because while our kids are going to school at home, we also have to adjust to this new norm of school.

There are a couple of bright sides to this new norm of school. For one, you don’t have to worry about buying any new back-to-school clothes and supplies for awhile. And second, if you’re able to stay at home with your kids all day or work from home, you can visit your kids any time throughout the day. However you look upon to this new style of school, there are bound to be more positive aspects to staying at home. Rather than look for the downfalls or hindrances, we can find alternatives and make new strategies.

Below I’ve listed some easy transitions for back to school this school year. If your school district is waiting on the go-ahead for on campus learning, then you need to be extraordinarily prepared for when and if that happens. We know that eventually schools will resume on campus, but meanwhile, let’s make some positive steps to “home” schooling.

EMOTIONAL AND MENTAL WELL-BEING:

– Recognize the language. Oftentimes when asked how we are feeling, we might be inclined to answer simply with “fine” or “I’m okay.” But there could be underlying emotions and issues that we don’t know how to properly express or say out loud. Recognize that simple “I’m fine” answers could really mean:

  • I don’t know

  • Not fine

  • I don’t want to tell you

  • You don’t really want to listen

  • Leave me alone

  • Please ask me more

Just like we might check our temperatures to see our physical health, we also need to check our emotional health. Emotions can be so personal that we often do not wish to share them for fear that others don’t understand. Try some of these ideas when you are going through emotional stress:

  • Take a short walk and appreciate all around you

  • Step outside for a few moments where you can just be by yourself. Recognize that this is okay and you need a few moments to just regroup.

  • Close your eyes and take deep breaths. Breathe in and out slowly until you can calm yourself.

  • Speak to someone you can trust and let them know how you are feeling at the moment or have continuously felt.

  • If it’s difficult to speak to a loved one, then find professional resources such as your hospital, local clinic, or a school’s outreach center. Check with your school to see what they offer.

IN-PERSON SCHOOL LEARNING:

If you’re in a state or district where on-campus learning is allowed, then you’ll need to take further precautions.

  • Follow school guidelines for safety – both personal and physical

  • Schools should follow their state’s guidelines for physical distance learning. For example, desks are spaced accordingly apart, Personal Protection Equipments for staff and students, hand washing stations in designated areas, hand sanitizers when hand washing is unattainable, and temperature checks if necessary.

  • Remind children not to share food and school supplies with others.

  • Lunch and breaks are limited to grade level and whether indoors or outside.

  • Masks or face shields for students when necessary.

ONLINE SCHOOL LEARNING:

If you’re in a state or district where 100% online learning is necessary, then the following are some suggestions for learning at home.

  • Follow school guidelines for online learning. Your school should have already sent you a schedule for 100% online learning.

  • Get your technology equipment ASAP! The sooner you get a laptop or desktop, the better you can to familiarize yourself with your new equipment. If your school offers a rental, be sure to get it as soon as they are offering it.

  • Set aside a specific area for your home learners. Depending on the age and grade, students learn best when they are away from distractions such as TV, video games, and toys.

  • Take frequent breaks. Most schools would have a schedule that includes frequent breaks and at least half hour lunches.

  • Get your supplies ready. If your student requires textbooks, be sure to pick them up at your school when ready. You can always reuse your supplies from last school year such as pencils, coloring markers, erasers, notebooks, etc. For older students, their lessons will most likely occur to be completed online rather than on paper. But keep paper handy for taking notes, etc.

  • Get to know your teachers and school administrators (if possible). Your teachers are your number one source when it comes to getting answers to your questions. Get their contact info and be sure to keep their info ready.

  • Update your child’s data on your school’s website. The more info you input, including health info, the more you can help your school to provide and give pertinent information.

Regardless of where you’re at this school year, school will eventually resume to its normal routine. While 100% online learning can be a tremendous learning curve for both your child and yourself, know that teachers are going through similar feelings and emotions. Most teachers also have children in school, so while they have to teach your child, they still have to find ways for their own children to learn.

Let’s try to keep everything in perspective and not overact. It is easy to feel distressed or worried about how the new school season will be. Most school activities are on hold such as school sports as well as popular school programs. But that doesn’t mean you can’t do something at home or online. Check with your schools in regards to the school programs and if they are on hold, then find out when they will resume.

Take deep breaths, be kind to yourself, and know that it’s absolutely okay to feel frustrated at the beginning.

Hope you all have a great new school year!

*Resources taken from PYLUSD, Edmentum, and Parents magazine.

 

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2 thoughts on “The New Norm of School – How We Adjust Helps Us Overcome the Difficulties

  1. Great wrap up of all the kinds of advice we’ve gotten this year for sending our kids back to school. We are doing distance learning for the forsseeable future but I’m definitely going to revisit this later and wil definitely be sharing this on my facebook page for my readers.

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