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?
By now, it’s a routine we know all-too well. As schools and districts across the country continue to adapt and adjust to the changing circumstances presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, sometimes it feels like uncertainty is the only certainty we can count on. A few things, however, remain true: 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 opted for an online-only school year.
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. Or maybe your school has been offering face-to-face instruction but is now turning to virtual learning (or a hybrid schedule) as COVID-19 transmission rates in your areas rise. As you navigate all this, you might have made decisions based on things like health conditions in your family, transmission rates in your area, your own options for work, food or money concerns, and so many other serious issues. All of this can easily begin to feel overwhelming and stressful, if it hasn’t already.
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. It’s just that 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 complete assigned work. For more about how to find out what your child should be learning, see Page 4.
- Answer your child’s questions and offer help when needed.
- Balance learning with social and emotional needs. For more information on how to support your child socially and emotionally, see Page 7.
By now, of course, you’ve probably got a bit of experience with many of these strategies. But even if we’re telling you things you already know, this resource can still help you make crucial refinements to improve and streamline your virtual school day. Feel free at any time to skip ahead to the module sections that are most relevant to your current circumstances or needs.
For everyone else (and for anyone who’d like a more complete refresher), here are a few tips to help you get started.
- 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. 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. Let’s face it, times are 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 dealing with a lot right now. We’re all just doing the best we can, day in and day out.
- Remember, this is temporary. It may be months before children return to school full-time, 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.