Parents survival guide to the 2020 school year

How to Survive the 2020 School Year – The Parent’s Guide

This school year is full of options – distance learning, in-classroom learning, and homeschooling. If you’ve been on social media at all, the memes are all over the place. Everyone has a different opinion and idea about which way is best, worst, safest, etc. Personally, it’s gotten a little crazy, but that seems to be the definition of 2020.

What is the school year looking like for you and your kids? Where I live, the kids have been back in school for about a month. At first, they went back on either Monday and Wednesday or Tuesday and Thursday. Fridays were for deep cleaning the schools. After three weeks of that routine, students went back full time, every day. But, they were given the choice of distance learning or to be in class. (I can only imagine how the teachers feel!)

And of course, then there are the homeschoolers. I was a homeschooling mom for 13 years – our youngest just graduated this past May. So right now we deal with the challenges of college and social distancing.

As a parent, do you ever want to just throw your hands up in the air? It could be that having all these options is making your head spin.

I want to give you some tips to survive the 2020 school year, as well as to help you help your kids stay on track to get the most out of however they learn this year.

Tip 1 to survive the 2020 school year – education choices

  • do what works best for your family
  • do what works best for each child

That is basically my best advice for which route to go this year. If distance-learning works best for your family, then do that. You may find that one child definitely learns best in a classroom with face-to-face teaching and learning. Some kids just simply don’t thrive in an online format. Some adults don’t either for that matter.

And only you know if you have the time to commit to distance learning or any kind of home education. It is a huge decision and not one to be made lightly. If your kiddos are young, you may have to sit beside them as they learn. Keep that in mind!

I started homeschooling when my third child started 6th grade. Our fourth started homeschooling two years later when she hit 6th grade, and two years after that our youngest came home when she was starting 4th grade. I always gave my kids the option of going back to public school. Only one took me up on it, and she only stayed that one year before returning to homeschooling.

Your family and your child(ren) will thank you for putting their needs at the top of the list. Don’t worry about what other people do (or think).

Tip 2 – you’ve decided, now what?

  • Stay flexible – remember way back in January when life was “easy,” and your biggest decision was what to pack for your kids’ lunches? If we only knew then what was coming in March! One thing we have learned from the COVID pandemic is to stay flexible. Things change, plans change, life changes. It is okay. (I know it may not always feel okay, but it truly is.)
  • Be committed – you’ve committed to sending your kids to school, or have them do distance learning, or even chose to homeschool, so commit to it. None of these choices are necessarily your first choice, but any of them are not only good choices, they are what’s best for you right now. Go with that.
  • Learn the platform – take the time to learn the system if it’s something new to you. Are the classes via Zoom, or are the assignments all on a particular online platform? There is a learning curve for students, parents, and teachers, so give yourself that time to learn. If you figure it out you’ll be able to better help your child.
  • Ask questions. I teach at a community college, and I love when students ask me questions, especially about the college’s online platform. I would much rather they ask then feel stupid or frustrated. And if you ask but get the runaround, ask someone else.
  • Be positive. Our kiddos need us to be positive and supportive through all these changes. They need us to be their rock. You can do it!

Tip 3 – how to stay on track

First of all – use a planner to help your students with routine and assignments. Learning a new routine – especially if it’s a hybrid one (some days at school, some at home) – can be tough for adults. Imagine being a child! To stay on track this 2020 school year may require more time, help, and input from you.

If your child is learning at home either through distance learning or homeschooling, help them find that new normal. What did they enjoy pre-COVID? Are they missing their friends, sports, scouts, etc.? As a parent, you can help make those things happen, even if it is via Zoom or social distancing at a sporting event or with scouting. We have to think outside of the box. Ask your child for some input too. You might be surprised at what they come up with.

I think it’s important to remind ourselves that when our kids were in school, they weren’t at their desks and deep in learning the entire 7-8 hours they were there. Learning comes in many forms, and frankly, distance-learning or homeschooling doesn’t require hours upon hours of schoolwork each day. Click here for a chart showing approximate times to spend on schoolwork, depending on the age/grade.

Take a look at what distractions there are at home. If your kiddo is going to be on the computer, or reading, or doing a packet of schoolwork, what will sidetrack them? Investing in a good pair of headphones, having kids at different tables or rooms, turning off the TV, putting cell phones on silent, and putting the dogs outside might be the best way for your child to learn distraction-free.

And, a gentle reminder for any school year, don’t do your child’s work. In no situation – at home or at school – does doing your child’s schoolwork benefit anyone. Let them learn, even if they struggle. Progress, not perfection.

You have what you need to survive the school year 2020

I know I’m an optimist, but I think we have what we need to survive the 2020 school year. We have our family, we have options, and we have tons of help. 

I remember when the quarantine first started in March. My mom was concerned, as were many people, about kids falling behind. The thing to remember is we were all in quarantine. In your area, if school stopped at a certain point, it stopped for everyone (except homeschoolers). So your kiddos aren’t any more behind than anyone else. Teachers are not only aware of this; they are prepared to bring our kids back up to speed.

Don’t let the challenges of 2020 push you over the edge! The tips I’ve given above should help you stay on track and provide you with ways to assist your kiddos this year. Here’s to a great school year – one where you and your child not only survive, you thrive!

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