Now that school is back in session, many children have returned to face-to-face classes, as opposed to the pandemic-drive remote learning. This can be an exciting and scary transition for parents and students, especially for those venturing outside the home for the first time after three years. There are new routines to master, new subjects to conquer and new friends to make. Many students will struggle with returning to school, not knowing which COVID-19 protocols are in place, if team sports will be available or if schools will be shut down again. Schooling in a post-pandemic world will be challenging, but parents can support their child’s transition. Here are five tips for a successful school year.
1Make No Assumptions
Do not assume that your child will ease into sitting at a desk, changing classes, being surrounded by a lot of people or enduring loud noises. Children who’ve worked at home, alongside parents or siblings will need time to adjust to being at school. Depending on the temperament of a child, this transition can be smooth or rough. One suggestion from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on how to lower stress levels in children is daily structure and routine. Children respond to and need structure to achieve success in the school classroom and in the yard.
2Discover Your Kid’s Learning Style
School has started and teachers have a set curriculum to get through between now and the end of the year. Much of the material will be covered quickly and everyone will be given the same information, but not everyone learns the same. Make an appointment with your child’s teacher to discuss what type of learner your child is. Of the eight possibilities: visual, auditory, kinesthetic, reading/eing, logical, nature, social and solitary — your child’s strategy for learning concepts may look different than the kid sitting next to her.
3Let The Past Go
Perhaps your child’s grades weren’t quite up to snuff. They may have struggled with a particular teacher or subject. While parents don’t want a repeat of the previous year, parents must be careful about how they express their feelings about a child’s academic performance. Children are intuitive and often feel shame if they think they have disappointed their parents. Some kids will work harder to do better and others will give up.
As new scholarship suggests, emphasizing grades over actual learning may backfire in the long run. Secondary Educator and Author Sara Sackstein writes that “by shifting student focus from earning a grade to learning the course content,” children become lifelong learners. This is not to say that students should not perform to the best of their abilities. It’s a reminder to focus on your child’s goals and not compare them to others or worry about past school grades.
4Take Your Child’s Emotional Temperature
Keep an open dialogue your with your student. Does she seem eager or reluctant to go to school? For children in remote learning environments, check to see if their camera is on and if she is responding to the teacher’s questions. By checking on your child’s progress often, parents can get in front of any academic or emotional hazards. The pandemic has left lots of children feeling anxious or depressed, so don’t discount your child’s inaction as “lazy.”
According to Child Psychologist and Director of behavioral health for PM Pediatrics Behavioral Health Dr. Jennifer Webster, “it’s not uncommon for kids and teens to be mislabeled as lazy before receiving a diagnosis of depression.” Contact the teacher or special education teacher for support, if you suspect that more than academic disinterest is at work.
5Work in Partnership with Teachers
It’s a new school year, engage the teacher. Tell them who your child is and be willing to work as a team. This approach means more positive attention from the teacher. Your child will feel seen and heard when they know their parents are co-partners in their education.