The sun is setting on summer, which means one thing: it’s time to go back to school. But what does that look like this year? For some kids, it means classroom learning with lots of new healthcare rules in place. For others, they’ll be spending their days learning at home, which presents its own set of challenges.
Here are our top tips for navigating your new normal, whether your children are learning long division in math class with 30 other classmates, or taking a deep dive into the history of the U.S. from the kitchen table.
Classroom Learning Tips:
- Handwash to a melody! According to the CDC, one of the best ways to combat germs is by washing hands for 20 seconds at a time. Make it more fun by choosing 20 seconds of your child’s favorite song for them to sing while scrubbing and practice at home every few days. A great backup tune? The Happy Birthday song recited twice in a row.
- Send older kids to school with their own hand sanitizer. Let them pick out the packaging and scent so they’re more likely to use it. Lots of vendors offer refillable carriers that attach easily to backpacks and belt loops.
- Let kids show their personality with face masks. For children 2 years old and up, the CDC recommends cloth face coverings, especially during times when social distancing is tough. Let kids have fun with them and show off their unique personalities by choosing patterns and themes that speak to them. Get the Marvel fan a Spider-Man mask, or bring home a floral patterned design for the nature lover.
- Purchase personal school supplies. Normally, kids share certain school supplies with other students, but for now, it’s safer for everyone to use their own. Buy compact-sized versions of safety scissors, glue, tissues, and anything else your kid’s teacher recommends. Write their first name on each item, and encourage them to only use their own supplies.
- Set up a dedicated space for dirty school clothes and supplies. Pick a space right by your entryway with a clothes hamper and cubby. Have kids leave the clothes they wore to school in the hamper and place their backpack and other school supplies in the cubby to be disinfected.
Homeschool Learning Tips:
- Set clear boundaries and time limits. Children thrive with a set structure. Have a school schedule for them every day, just like they would have in a classroom, and communicate each assignment and deadline clearly. Stoplight Golight, with easy-to-understand red and green lights, is an excellent tool to help your kids keep track of work time on their own.
- Instead of a chair, use an exercise ball! Homeschooling can make the calmest of kids wiggly. Let them burn off extra energy by sitting on an exercise ball during class time. The act of keeping their balance while subtly bouncing keeps their body occupied so their brain can focus on the lesson at hand.
- Get out of the house. Get creative and take assignments outside. Instead of reading about different types of trees, take a walk around the neighborhood and point out some native species. Learning about fractions? Use sidewalk chalk to illustrate the difference between ¼ and ⅜.
- Have a dedicated learning space. When teaching happens inside, make sure you’re in a designated space meant for learning. Keep study materials organized there and print out a daily schedule to hang on the wall. Even if your kids end up working at the kitchen table, it’s good to have a “homeroom” to return to.
- Make kids part of the action. With homeschooling, lessons can take on many different forms. For example, baking cookies together can teach fine motor life skills, math, and science. An art project can teach history and geography. Keep kids engaged and playing an equal role in the assignment by using the True Tot Tower to put them on level height with their work surface.
At the end of the day, we’re all navigating new territory in these unpredictable times, including your children. So remember, whether your kiddos attend school in-person or switch to learning at home, be patient and aim for trying your best, not achieving perfection.