Summer vacation is coming to an end and it’s time to return to school. As the days wind down, it’s becoming more real that I am preparing for elementary school in the midst of a pandemic. Although we don’t know what this school year will hold, I have been optimistically preparing myself and my kids for a great school year anyway.
With the global pandemic still spreading, this school year is going to be an unprecedented one. Parents all over the country have to make the decision to send their children back to school for face-to-face learning, at-home distance learning, or homeschooling. Whatever your choice for schooling your children this year, going back to school is going to look much different than it ever has in the past.
This year, we have a 4th grader and a 2nd grader preparing for elementary school. Hubs and I have chosen at-home distance learning for our students. Although we both feel strongly about keeping our family safe, the decision to continue to teach our kids from home was not an easy decision to make.
In our school district, distance learning is an online classroom setting where our children will have a virtual classroom experience. The classroom curriculum is provided by their public elementary school, and the assigned teacher and classmates are the same people they would have had if they were receiving in-class interaction. In fact, our 2nd grader has the same teacher our 4th grader had two years ago.
Why We Chose Virtual Learning for Our Children
After considering the pros and cons of in-class versus virtual learning, my husband and I made the best choice for our family. Here are a few reasons why we chose virtual learning for our kids this school year:
- I am a work-from-home mom. Since I create my own work schedule, my days are flexible, allowing me to be with our children during the day as they attend class virtually. This year, preparing for elementary school may not be as easy for parents who work outside of the home.
- I am tech-savvy. Virtual learning can be intimidating for someone who isn’t used to using computers. Since I run my own businesses from home, virtual meetings, online portals, and web-based deadlines are kinda my thing.
- We already have the technology. Virtual learning can be very expensive for a family that doesn’t already have the necessary tools. Our elementary school requires a learning device (such as a tablet, laptop, or computer) and reliable internet access to use the learning portals and apps. **Some schools have learning equipment available to borrow or rent for their students. Call your school to request equipment. We have already owned the necessary tools our students will need.
- My children thrive with individual instruction. When all schools shut down last year due to the Covid-19 outbreak, we were thrust into distance learning. After four months of hands-on teaching, I realized that my son started thriving from the individual attention he was receiving from me concerning his school work. He went from making B’s and C’s, to all A’s – and it made both of us feel great. My daughter also mentioned that she “likes it when I am her teacher.”
- Our kids are young. Preparing for elementary school looks a lot different than preparing older children for middle and high school. I understand that at 7 and 9, although they feel like “big kids”, our elementary schoolers are still young enough to go with the flow. They aren’t missing any big milestones such as prom or graduation. They aren’t missing tournaments or championships. They are old enough to understand that there is a “virus outside” that is hurting people, but not old enough to have an opposing opinion about it. They trust that Mommy and Daddy are making the right decision, and haven’t asked too many questions concerning the situation.
As a parent, I understand that there are so many different factors that go into the decision to choose virtual learning or face-to-face learning this year. We are living through an unusual time, and I encourage you to make the best decision for you and your family. Don’t worry about the opinions of others during this time, there is no “right or wrong” choice. After all the reasons listed above, I still received criticisms for choosing virtual learning. In the end, you have to make the decision – so choose what works best for you and your children.
Going Back To School In The Midst Of A Pandemic
As we began to prepare for back to school this year, my oldest mentioned subtly, “this is very…weird.” Instead of back-to-school clothes shopping, we shopped for electronics instead. Instead of an Open House to meet their new teachers, we logged onto a virtual portal and watched a pre-recorded welcome video instead. Although safe from spreading germs and getting sick, it was indeed very…weird.
As you prepare for back to school this year, everything is going to be different. Going back to school in a pandemic is new for all teachers, students, parents, and administrators. No one has ever had to live through what our country is currently facing. Although we cannot control what’s happening in the world right now, we can control how we handle it all. I’m a “glass half full” type of girl, so this is written from a place of optimism and hope. We don’t know what this school year will look like, but we can go into this school year hoping for the best.
Whether you are sending your children back to the classroom or doing distance learning and homeschooling from home, it’s important to keep the communication between you and your children open and honest. I like to have family meetings to discuss what’s going on and how they feel about it. Children comprehend more than we give them credit for, so talk to your kids and talk to them often.
As a mom, you are your child’s safe place. so it’s your job to make them feel as comfortable as possible during this time. Your children and their teachers are living through this pandemic just like you are – one day at a time. Because this is such a unique situation, get ready to give and receive a lot of patience and grace.
Click here to read: 7 Ways to Make Your Children Feel Loved Every Day
Tips for Back to School When The Kids Aren’t Going Back to School
- Communicate often. Because the idea of “distance learning” is new to everyone, communicate as often as possible with your child’s teacher. Before school starts, gather all of your teacher’s contact information in an easy-to-access spot. Utilize all tools given and recommended to you by your child’s teacher to ensure things go as smoothly as possible.
- Encourage them throughout the day. Wouldn’t it be nice to get a special treat at the end of the day for completing all of your responsibilities? I know I would! – and I’m sure our children would too. Encourage your children often when they do a great job with their school day. Reward them with their favorite meal for lunch or give them a sticker at the end of each great day. Create fun and exciting incentives that will help your child make it through the day with a smile on their face.
- Create a designated work area. Although your children are schooling from home, they need to understand that school should be taken seriously. Find a place in your home where you can create a designated work area for your children to work uninterrupted during school hours.
- Keep school separate from play. Our 4th and 2nd grader are using their personal tablets for instruction this year. To keep their work separated from their play, I have set up a separate school profile on their tablet that will only be accessed during school hours.
- Remain optimistic. The best thing you can do for yourself and for your children is to keep a good attitude about everything that is happening right now. If they hear you murmuring and complaining all the time, they will also learn to grumble and complain about school. If you can, engage in a self-care activity before engaging in their school work for the day. You have to first take care of yourself if you are going to properly take care of them.
And that’s it! That’s how I’m preparing for elementary school in the midst of a pandemic. Click here to read my post 10 Tips to Stay Productive While Working from Home for more tips on how to get work done while your student is working from home. Thank you for stopping by, and be sure to subscribe so you never miss a post!
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