A new school year…indeed. One for the history books! This year, parents get to get creative like they’ve never been before. With school being pushed back a week, and most, if not all, only having a virtual option, Miami-Dade schools never looked quite like this.
What should parents be thinking about?
- Who is going to lead the way, academically speaking, for the children? Who is going to keep an eye out to make sure that things are progressing as they should be? Is it one parent, shared work between both parents, a childcare provider, a tutor, a relative? This will, of course, depend on many things such as: parents’ work-life, money, availability, family support, and community.
- Learn from the past. Think back to March-June of this year. What worked in your household? What didn’t work? What would you want to add? What would you NOT want to repeat? Now that you have an idea of what your home looks like as a classroom, you can make better choices for the needs of your children and the needs of your family.
- The distinction between childcare and a teacher. Parents are realizing that schools offered a dual service of childcare for your child during school hours AND learning at the same time. And as there were several teachers at school that taught several different subjects, it provided for a childcare/teaching hybrid for everyone. Now, with some families strictly at home though, many will need a childcare provider (family member, college student, nanny, babysitter) to manage the children at home while parents work either from home, or outside of the home. Managing children means making sure they do their virtual learning, keeping them on task, providing meals/snacks, and ensuring their overall well-being. This is different, however, from a teacher/private tutor who can be paid to ensure that the child is on track with learning, that gaps aren’t forming, and that the child’s academic well-being is being monitored. You may need both kinds of providers this year.
- Pods, you say? Pods, or small learning groups, are forming around the country. Just google it and you’ll find a few articles about it. The pod is being created in order to facilitate childcare, costs, and tutoring for a couple or a few families at a time. The idea is that a few families make an agreement to share responsibilities and costs for the education of their children. This may look like rotating the use of a home for school time for the children, and having this small group of children learning and collaborating together during the week. This is a great idea as it creates a small community of support, while also providing support with some new costs for this academic year. Parents can pool their money and resources together and work as a unit.
- Quarantine levels. Whether your children are very young or in high school, you must consider what kind of quarantine restrictions you will keep. For older children, it’s obviously easier to keep friendships and socialization afloat via a phone/iPad/or app. With younger ones, of course, the struggle is real. Think about what is most important for your family and what to do about socializing your children, which is still very important. Can you find one or two families that share the same concerns as you? Maybe you can agree to see only them for the next few months. The reality is that there are levels of quarantine given the reality of circumstances, and you want to find a family or families that match your level, and can possibly provide an outlet for your child(ren). Are there programs out there that match your level of quarantine?
- You will need a break. What kind of support can you afford that meets your desires and needs now? Many different types of teachers are looking for students. You can find art, music, yoga, sports…just to name a few. Some are offering virtual classes, one-on-one, or small group. Some yoga studios are offering enrichment classes for children. Can any of these fit into your life this academic year? Plan for some time-off because you know that you will need it! We all need time-off.
- Screentime. Let’s start by acknowledging that it’s inevitable. We live in a time and culture where screens are everywhere, and at every age. Learning and work takes place on screens nowadays. Like everything, moderation is key. And children need to be taught this by a parent or caregiver. If you would like tips on HOW to implement moderation in your home, check out this free resource at Nvision. I approve of their tips! https://www.nvisioncenters.com/education/screen-time-and-your-eyes/#kid https://www.nvisioncenters.com/education/blue-light/
And please remember that everyone is doing the best they can right now. Things could change abruptly at any time, especially in October when the Superintendents in Miami-Dade and Broward reassess the situation. We don’t know what the future holds for this academic year. Add some reflection, surrender to the process, and remember that there aren’t mistakes. There’s always an effortless solution right around the corner.