About a month from now, a new school year will begin. This year is like no other, and families and people who work in schools still have tons of decisions to make and questions they need answered. It’s incredibly stressful! One strategy for navigating this difficult time is to work on doing things that will help the students in your life get ready for going back to school – whether that will be happening remotely, in-person, or a combination. To help you get started, we have collected resources related to this topic.
We know there is a lot of information coming at you these days, so just take what you need and share anything you think might be helpful for someone else!
Tips for Creating a Home Learning Space
If your child(ren) or teen(s) will be doing school from home some or part of the time, it’s helpful to think ahead about where in the home they will be and what adjustments you could make that will help. There is a lot of info about this online that is aimed at families with money to buy lots of stuff and ample space to put it, but you don’t have to have all of those resources to create a spot that works well!
Check out some tips for creating a home learning space from home schoolers who have been doing this for a long time and from a midwestern education and equity organization.
If the new school year means your students will beinteracting more with people outside of the home (whether they are at school, with a couple of other families, at a remote learning site, etc), now is a great time to have your kids practice:
Wearing masks or other face coverings
– Help kids to get used to wearing masks with tips from this article.
– Here’s how to make simple masks for kids without a sewing machine.
– Good Housekeeping has an article with tips for getting masks for kids.
– Just for fun or to show to kids to help them feel more comfortable with masks, here is a 30-second video of how some animals would wear masks. (from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health)
Practicing hand hygiene
Check out this 2 minute video from March with tips for teaching kids about hand washing in a reassuring way. And if you like the hand washing song that the kids are singing in the video, learn it here.
For kids who like to rinse and not use soap, this 1 minute video shows why soap helps to clean our hands.
This 1 minute video with 5 steps of proper hand washing (from before COVID) for teens and adults.
The CDC’s free, printable posters on hand hygiene for kids and teens are available here.
Maintaining physical distance and not touching the same stuff as other kids
This can be even harder for people than wearing a mask, because getting close to each other is something we do without thinking (like touching our faces!).
With younger kids or teens who are up for something silly, try this game outside. Use glitter or chalk pastels – each kid puts a lot of one color on their hands to signify their germs. Then kids plays near each other for a little while with separate toys and books (or phones for teens). After 10 minutes, see what items have what colors on them. Did they touch their faces? Did their toys or phones get “germs” on them? Did they touch anyone else’s toys or clothes? Discuss and come up with ideas for not spreading germs.
Recalibrate sleep schedules
Whether in-person or online, there will probably be more of a routine when school starts. We’ve heard from a lot of families that teens and even young children are going to bed very late and waking up later. Start getting used to earlier bedtimes now to help ease the transition. Try turning the lights down an hour before bed, limiting screen time as much as possible in the last couple of hours before bed, setting reminders for yourself to start bedtime, using a routine, and removing distractions from the bedroom. Soothing music, family snuggle time with kids, and exercise earlier in the day can also help. If sleep routines are hard to shift, try talking with a health care provider about it.
Think about Meals
Whether kids are going to be at home or not, if you are providing lunch, consider what might work well and make things easy.
For easier lunchtimes during remote learning, some parents and caregivers prep lunch ahead so kids can grab it on their own. Some families make cooking part of the curriculum and do some together during the day (if they have time) or on a weekend or evening ahead of time. Some families make extra of kids’ favorite dinners so they can refrigerate or freeze leftovers for school lunches.
Meal prep sharing with agreed upon food safety precautions can make things easier. Several adults or families can team up to each provide one meal per week or a frozen soup or casserole that can be used any time.
For more ideas and places to find recipes for particular ingredients, check out our article on what to do with specific ingredients.
As of posting this information, we are waiting to learn more about what school meals will look like this fall and will share it in the Coalition Connections newsletter.
Team up in covid-safe ways
You are not alone! Share ideas and concerns with other parents and caregivers in your neighborhood, school district, or people who are choosing a similar option for school this fall, even if they’re not nearby. Ask a guidance counselor or adjustment counselor at the school for additional resources within your district or call the Community Action Family Center.
A little more reading on going back to school…
This article has tips for figuring out whether it will work for your family to send kids back to school in person and info about what it might be like. Some of the “options” listed in the article are not actually available in local communities or possible for your family. Some of the things listed to make sure your school is doing are based on state law. However, it definitely has some good things to consider and validates that what is right for each family is a bit different!