As a parent, what is my role, and what can I do to best support my child’s education?
Page 1: What Is My Role?
Let’s be honest: There’s a lot of anxiety associated with the start of school this fall. The need for children to learn in face-to-face classrooms, in actual school buildings, is a priority. But the health concerns—for school personnel, students, and families—are also very real. As schools have weighed the benefits and risks, many have decided to start the school year virtually.
On the other hand, if your school is offering a face-to-face option, you might have had to make some tough decisions. Maybe you had to choose whether to send your child to school or have her learn at home. Maybe you had to make that decision based on things like health conditions in your family, COVID-19 transmission rates in your area, your options for work, food or money concerns, and so many other serious issues. All of this might feel overwhelming and stressful.
Keep in Mind
As a parent, you are constantly helping your child learn something. Maybe it’s how to ride a bike, do chores, or get along with others. Supporting learning isn’t a new role. Now you’re just supporting a different type of learning.
So, before we start, take a deep breath. Now let it out slowly. No matter what your school situation, we’ve got ideas, tips, and recommended resources to help.
Supporting your child’s learning doesn’t mean that you have to plan every lesson. You don’t have to recreate the school day. And you certainly don’t have to take on the role of the teacher.
So what do you have to do? What does “support learning” actually mean? It means that you:
- Create a time and space for your child to learn. For information on getting your child ready to learn, see Page 2.
- Encourage your child to learn and to do any work that is assigned. For more about how to find out what your child should be learning, see Page 3.
- Answer your child’s questions or help when needed.
- Balance learning with social and emotional needs. For more information on how to support your child socially and emotionally, see Page 6.
When schools and businesses shut down suddenly in the spring, you probably had to reorganize your daily life very quickly. You probably had to change your schedule and set up temporary working and learning spaces for you and your child or children.
Now, as the beginning of a new school year approaches, you have a little more time to prepare. You can also think back to the spring, reflect on what worked well and what didn’t, and use that information to help prepare for this year. Here are a few tips to help you begin.
- Prioritize your needs. There’s a lot on your plate right now. It’s hard to do everything, so decide what’s most important for your family each day.
- Make changes as needed. At the end of each week, think about what worked and what didn’t (the schedule, learning spaces). If something didn’t work, it’s OK to try something else. Remember, this is new. It may take several tries to figure it all out.
- Take care of yourself. It’s important for you to stay healthy, both physically and mentally. It might be as simple as finding a few moments of alone time or getting enough sleep. You can’t take care of others if you’re not healthy.
- Take a break. This time can be stressful. So take a break and do something fun. This is a great opportunity to make special memories with your kids.
- Relax your expectations. The house might not be as clean as you want. Your child might have more screen time than normal. It’s OK!
- Don’t feel guilty. It’s alright if everything isn’t perfect. You’re probably dealing with a lot right now, and it takes time to adjust.
- Remember, this is temporary. It may be weeks or months before children return to school, but eventually they will.
Keep in Mind
You know as well as we do: Every kid is different. Some are constantly on the move, others prefer quiet activities. Some like structure, others prefer to do their own thing on their own schedule. Some zip through learning activities, others struggle with these tasks.
You know your child best. As you read through the following pages, keep in mind that you might have to adjust the tips to meet your own needs or those of your child. This may be particularly true for kids who struggle with learning or for kids with disabilities.