If you are a parent, you have a few tough decisions to make in the next few days. Do I send my child to school? Do I sign them up for virtual school? Do I homeschool them? Whatever your situation is at home, there is one thing we all have in common – there is no one perfect scenario right now.
So, what do we do? We keep calm, carry on, and get prepared!
My daughters will be virtual, so this post focuses on virtual school. If you are planning to send your child to school face to face, it may be helpful, but there are thousands of posts from years past that have checklists and suggestions that can guide you. Check those out, and I wish you the best with your decision!
If you have NEVER started the year off virtually, this post is for you!
Get a Computer for Your Child(ren)
When we were home with schooling from March to May, we quickly learned that there was no way our household of 4 could function with two laptops. I had to teach and grade assignments, the girls had to Zoom and do their lessons (usually at the same time) and my husband had to sermon prep and study.
Most schools will be giving out Chromebooks or Apple books for the start of the school year. Take advantage of those resources. If they are not giving them out, shop around for a nice one that has decent storage space (it will be helpful with the number of videos your child will probably be watching).
Don’t forget the printer, chargers, earbuds, and wi-fi!
Set-Up Your “Classroom”
Now that your children have access to a computer, where will that computer be? I STRONGLY suggest not having it their bedroom!! No matter how much they beg, a computer in the bedroom is an active ingredient for trouble down the road.
Find a corner in the living room, dining room, or kitchen for your child to set up as a study area. You can even consider readjusting your furniture and placing that computer where your Christmas tree usually stands in December!
Having computers in a public place keeps your child accountable for what they are doing during “school hours”. It also allows their bedroom to remain a sacred place for resting and retreating at the end of a long day of studies.
Get a Planner and Other Supplies for Organization
My phone reminders and notifications are nice, but nothing takes the place of a colorful planner to write things down with my pretty pens!
Get a planner for your child to keep up with all of their assignments. Virtual school can be more perplexing when it comes to keeping things in order because your child is not “moving” from class to class. A student planner will help.
Decide which organizational system works best for your child. Do they need a separate folder for each subject, or will one large folder with pocket dividers work for them? You may not need an extensive amount of loose-leaf filler paper, but there are a few school supplies that you can pick up to make your lives a little more organized.
Make a (FLEXIBLE) Schedule
Some schools will require students to log in at certain times for attendance. Others will leave it open for parents and students to work out. Find out which one your child’s school will require and make a schedule! Post that schedule somewhere for the entire family to see!
Avoid schedules that are down to the minute. There will be hiccups every day. Your child may need to watch a video twice before they understand a lesson. A science tutorial may require your explanation in simple terms.
Any teacher will tell you that lesson plans can be perfect…. But life hardly ever goes according to “plans”.
Determine a Realistic Role as a Parent
Every parent is not a teacher, and that is okay. Find out if your child’s school has a plan for parents that are feeling overwhelmed. Do they have tutors available? Are there special help sessions with the teacher for students or even parents?
I’ve known that I could not help my daughters’ past 4th-grade math for years now, and I am okay with that. Instead of driving all parties involved insane this year, I have already decided to seek a tutor for both girls.
Know your limits and reach out for help!
Make a List of Pros and Cons
It is no surprise that your child may not be excited to go back to school. When have they ever been? And now that the world is filled with uncertainty, children are even more apprehensive.
Help your child to deal with their feelings by writing a Pros and Cons list for the new year. What are they looking forward to when it comes to virtual school? What are they most nervous about? This will allow you to know how to help talk your child through the process. What you think will bother them, may not be a worry at all for your child. And what you think they are comfortable with, could be a terrifying thought for them.
Create a Motto or Mission Statement
Things will get shaky throughout the year. What is the one thing you want your family to focus on when it comes to learning this year?
Write that down and make it a motto statement!
Every year I created a “chorus motto”, for my choir to focus on and I painted it on my classroom wall. They always had 2 purposes – a musical purpose and a personal purpose.
Here are a few I had to get your creative juices flowing:
Talent is Nothing. Character is Everything – reason – It was the beginning of my second year at that school and my students needed to know what my standards were when it came to performance in class and on stage. During my first year, I had one too many issues with student conflicts, pride, and even dishonesty in my classroom. The motto reminded them that I would rather have a group of less talented voices I could trust when I turned my back, than a group of gifted, yet corrupt, singers.
Discipline Perfects Greatness – reason – I had a group of great kids that were talented, passionate about singing, and well behaved (for the most part 😊), but they lacked discipline. They were lazy and needed a motivational reminder that if they worked just a little harder, their talents could take them so much further.
Let Your Voice Be Heard – reason – I had a group of shy singers that felt less than the stronger voices that had just graduated. They needed to find their own voice and confidence and realize their talent was just as valued as those that left.
What would you like to focus on this year with your children? What (short) sentence or statement will give them a gentle reminder to start the year strong and keep it strong until the end?
Keep a Positive Attitude and Mindset
This year will not be perfect, but it can be rewarding. If you have any other suggestions, leave them in the comments area! We’re all in this together!
Little POW-wow, Pearls of Wisdom
· There are many scriptures in the Bible that speak of teaching your child. How can the situation of schools this year remind us of God’s instruction to us as parents?
· You are the biggest influence on your child.
If you have negative feelings about starting school virtually, how can you find the positives in this situation so that you can inspire a positive year for your child?
· Read 2 Corinthians 12:9. How can you allow your weakness to show God’s strength over the next few months?
Tune My Heart….
Ain’t No Mountain High Enough was a song written by Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson in 1966 for Motown. It has been recorded by several artists including Diana Ross (solo), The Supremes, and The Temptations. The most popular version, and arguably the best recording of the song, was the original recording of Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell.
I chose this song today because no matter how you approach this school year, don’t let anything get in the way of your child getting the best education possible. It can happen on your watch! Enjoy!
Traci D. Fuller, Pearls and Pretty Pens © 2020