A New School Year

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?

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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?
  6. 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.
  7. 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.

Hello Summer!

I’d like to start by congratulating the class of 2020! Whether your child has graduated from Kindergarten or from high school, this year holds a special place in all of our hearts. Despite the hardships and despite the unknown, you have made it! Take a moment and celebrate. Celebrate with your child! Teach them to stop and smell the roses.

And now, as discussed previously, what to do about summer? With travel limitations, summer camp limitations and all sorts of enrichment limitations, what can you do to make the most out of your child’s summer in these uncertain and difficult times?

Begin by asking your child what she or he wants. What does a good summer look like to them? Make sure to ask when you have their full attention in order to get a genuine answer. Have them write it down. It can be a paragraph or a list. Put it up somewhere so that they see it and it’s progression throughout the summer. And then, do your best, and go find what they would like!

Maybe this summer is about your child spending more time with cousins and playing indoors. Maybe just one cousin. Maybe they get to be bookworms at home if they love to read. Maybe they can play virtually with friends, even though you don’t love the idea of video games. Maybe there is a sport you can enroll them in, or a private or small-group class. Everyone is facing the same concerns about health and well-being, and each family’s response will be unique. Respect it. While I know that it’s harder this year, everyone is thinking about how to make it work. Use your networks to find information. Parents are looking for activities and plenty of teachers are looking to teach.

Reach out to teachers you may know. They may be looking for some extra income. Buy some activity or enrichment books on Amazon that will give your child something to work on. A little every day goes a long way. And good luck!

The Unknown

If you’re a parent right now, you’ve probably been thinking about what you’re going to do with your children over the summer. And I’m sure you’ve also ventured to think about what next year may look like…much to your dismay. And there aren’t any answers.

As far as we know, the leader of our district, Mr. Carvalho, hasn’t announced anything regarding the next school year. There is talk of full implementation as usual, or a sort of scaffolding, or block scheduling whereby your child may not be able to go to school every day. This is very stressful. There are so many things to consider: your needs as parents, your wants as parents, and the needs and wants of your children. And last but not least, there is also the safety of your children and family to consider.

My advice to you, as parents, is two-fold. My first piece of advice is to acknowledge and accept that things aren’t returning to normal. The sooner you can get comfortable with this, then the sooner you can move on. Education is going to look different. And this could be a very good thing for our education system. Let’s have faith.

My second piece of advice is to be patient and to trust. Things aren’t going to change overnight. Change is slow. Things will take time to develop into new things. We will need to be patient with this change. We will need to trust that all is as it should be. And you will need to trust that you are making the best decisions you see fit, as a parent, with the information given to you in this moment. Trust your thinking, trust your gut, trust yourselves.

How to talk to your children about the “new normal…”

Be honest. Children are honest. Sometimes they are brutally honest, which is why sometimes adults interpret children’s actions as mean. It’s usually more about honesty than meanness. Children can also spot inauthenticity very well. They can tell when an adult is being honest or not. As a rule of thumb, be as honest as you can be with your children because it will teach them the value of honesty, and they will appreciate it on conscious and subconscious levels.

It’s ok to be vulnerable. It’s ok for you to show your children that you don’t always have the answer, especially when you’re talking about COVID-19. You don’t have the answers. No one does. You’re doing the best that you can, and luckily, that is all that your children need from you. Your children always only need the best that you can do. Sooner or later, they will understand that no one got a manual delivered after delivery.

Keep emotions in check. Being vulnerable means that your children will probably see tears from you at some point or another. It’s ok. It’s good for them to know that they can and should cry when they feel like it. At the same time, I recommend that you think about what you will say before you have an “official talk” with your children. When children see adults cry, it tends to scare them. It’s a fine line; walk it gently and carefully. And if you fall off the tightrope sometimes, it’s ok.

Children are highly intuitive. They will be able to tell that people are scared, that things are different, or that we just don’t know. It’s ok for you to tell them that because they will see it anyway. It’s better for you to prepare them for that, actually. Ask yourself what you want them to know about living with COVID-19. That is the only thing that you can control. What do you want them to remember, know, or understand?

Bring it down a notch. Explain things clearly. Break it down. Think like a child. Use visuals if you need. Often times, I’ve seen parents use adult vocabulary and adult concepts to explain something to young children that is incomprehensible to them. Check with your children to see if they understood what you just said. Ask questions. Ask for a summary. Ask if they know what a certain word means. They will be honest about it. Keep breaking down a concept further if it hasn’t been understood. Think in “little bites.”

Remind them that they are not alone. They have you. You will be there for them. Encourage them to speak to you about their feelings or thoughts. Keep an open door. Remind them that you are there for them and that you will be looking out for them. Remind them that they are safe.


Ufff…tough word. The word “consistency” makes me cringe a little. It leads me to self- judgment. Am I consistent enough? I should be more consistent. What does it say about me if I’m not consistent? How will I be enough if I’m not consistent? Ouch. That last one hurt.

Well, I’m here to tell you that, yes, it helps to be consistent. It helps a lot. And it’s very important for children that you be consistent. Why? Well…because it’s good for them to know to expect something, whether it’s good or bad. It’s good for them to make the connections between cause and effect. It’s healthier for them to know that they can expect an action, reaction, feeling, praise, or disciplinary action if something is said or done. It helps them to feel safe.

As a teacher, I often felt that I wasn’t consistent enough. I felt like a juggler that had incorporated 20 balls in my comedy routine and tried my best to be the best juggler I could be, and yet, unfailingly, dropped about half of my balls on the floor. I imagine that parenting must sometimes feel this way.

But there’s hope. I’m here to tell you that there’s hope if you’re not a great juggler. Lol. Just kidding. I’m here to tell you to pick one ball. Pick one thing to be consistent about. Pick one reward that you do consistently when something is said or done. Pick one disciplinary action when something is said or done, or not said or done. Pick one and stick with it. Hold on to it. And as you get really comfortable juggling this one ball, you can pick up another one. It doesn’t matter how long it takes you to pick up another ball. Pick it up once you stop thinking about the fact that you’re even juggling at all. That first ball needs to become somewhat attached to you. That’s when you’re ready to pick up another consistent action, or effect.

And, finally, drop the judgment. You get to drop any judgment that you may be feeling about it (I’m also saying this to myself). You are doing the best that you can. You are doing great. You are enough. Happy juggling 🙂 You’re an amazing juggler!

Teacher Appreciation Week

This week is Teacher Appreciation Week in the U.S. I believe that more parents around the country are probably appreciating teachers more now than ever before.

Probably the most valuable virtue that a teacher has is patience. Teachers have to be patient. They have to be patient with children that are learning something new, seeing something for the first time, or trying something for the first time. Sometimes it’s learned quickly and sometimes it’s not. And a teacher has to be patient in order to re-think, re-direct, and re-visualize because often things don’t go according to plan. And when things don’t go as planned, one must change direction and adapt.

We are in the process of learning new things, trying new things, and seeing things for the first time as a society, as a culture, and as a human race. We are changing direction more than ever now and we are adapting to something new. And this calls for patience. Patience with yourself, your family, your children, everybody, and everything else.

Patience doesn’t come easily. Patience looks like taking a deep breath often. So do it today. Practice it today. Take deep breaths several times. If you need patience with your children, then go take a 5 minute break by yourself. Go to the bathroom for 5 minutes, go outside for 5 minutes, go in your closet for 5 minutes. Give yourself the minuscule amount of time and space. Then re-think, re-direct, and re-visualize where you’re headed. It will serve you and your family. And teachers do it all the time…so your breaks are teacher-approved!

Home Schooling 102

Set up a chart or list in your child’s bedroom. Write out the specific actions or expectations that you have for your child. It can detail the morning routine, the whole day routine, or home rules that must be followed. It can be on a piece of poster board or even a piece of paper that you can have your child decorate. The point is that a child needs to see the rules or expectations before she or he can remember them and act accordingly. This is why teachers set up classroom rules that are visible at the beginning of the school year.

Encourage your children to help each other. If you have more than one child, you can teach them how to help one another with small tasks. In the classroom, teachers encourage children to help all the time. It teaches them responsibility, how to master something, and divides up the work. The next time your youngest child needs help logging onto a website, ask your eldest to help log him or her onto the website. And it doesn’t always have to look like the eldest helping the youngest. Every child has gifts and talents. Maybe your youngest is very good at art and can assist the eldest, who may not be as confident about his or her creativity. This, in turn, helps you out as well.

Keep them moving. Children need movement throughout the day. Bookmark some Youtube exercise videos for kids (Gonoodle is great) and allow for your child to access these for short 10-minute videos of exercise. It will help get some energy out, keep them busy, and give you a breather. And they are guilt-free T.V. or Youtube watching.

Home Schooling 101

As you navigate through home schooling, keep these things in mind:

This is the first time a school district, school, principal, teacher, and parent manages virtual teaching. Be very patient. Everyone is doing the best they can.

That being said, as parents, you have a lot of power. If things seem too heavy, you should voice your concerns to your principal, school, and district. You can make the change.

Set up a schedule. Schools work on a tight schedule and your children are used to a lot of routine in school. Do your best to set up a morning routine, lunch routine, and afternoon routine.

Reading is best in the morning. That’s when your child should be doing most Reading activities. It’s scientifically proven they work better in the mornings, especially for Reading.

Breaks are important. Any child’s attention span is considerably shorter than that of an adult. The younger the child, the shorter the attention span. Break up the work into chunks and give them breaks in-between.

Teach your child to set up timers. You can use your phone, iPad, computer, oven, or microwave timers. This way you keep track of the beginning and the end of a block of time. And your child can be placed in charge. They can do everything you teach them to do.

Set up rewards. Children, like adults, like to look forward to something. A reward for a good day of schooling can go a long way. And usually the best reward you can give your child is your attention. Plan something to do with him/her at the end of the day when you can.

Set up a desk, or a working area on a table, if possible. If your child tends to get distracted, try to have him/her facing a blank wall. Make sure to keep any background noise from T.V. or music at a minimum, or completely off if it distracts your child. If distraction isn’t an issue, then you can try playing classical or relaxing music, lightly, in the background.

#zerotohero #parents #school #teachers #children #homeschool

It Takes A Village

Welcome! My name is Ingrid and I’m here to help you. Are you a parent? If so, then you’ve landed in a good place. You see I’m a teacher, and I have taught at a public elementary school for the past 8 years. I have recently left the classroom, but I continue to work with children. I have written a book that calls for education reform…so much reform that I’d basically like to scrap what we have and start over. It’s called, The Death of Public Schools.

As my work transitions, I’m going to be posting about things I think will help you, the parents. And as we have just embarked upon an unprecedented time in our human evolution with the coronavirus, I believe, parents will need more help now than ever, as schools are cancelled around the country. Most of us are feeling fearful of this unknown, but we can get through anything together. I’m here to remind you of this and to offer solutions and advice to the best of my ability.

I encourage you to leave comments, to spark conversation, and to be kind. As we share information, counsel, advice, suggestions, and questions, we’ll start to raise children as a village, which is the best way to do it. We don’t have to do it alone. Actually, we shouldn’t do it alone. And so we begin…

Who am I?

My calling in this life is to serve children. That means that I will be doing things in my life that will improve the lives of children because it’s what makes me happy. It inspires me. I connect with them easily. I appreciate the joy and spontaneity that they bring daily. I love that I’m never bored. And I like to teach how to do something. In return, children challenge me and bring me joy more often than anyone else can. Children bring joy because they let go of things easily. It’s a gift to let go of things easily. It’s harder to let go as an adult.

As a result of my inspiration, I wanted to create a blog where we can start conversations about children. Your children. A blog where I can somehow help because I like to help and because I know some things about child- rearing and how to handle things. I like to share information and, in return, I get to work at something that I love. It’s a privilege to be able to do that.

And so, I am here, at your service…here to answer questions that may help you or may help your neighbor. And as we open up conversation, and open up threads, some thread may be of great value to someone else because we never know who we may be helping out!

#zerotohero #parenting #parents #school #children #education