There’s no doubt that this school year looks different. While kids are mourning the inability to socialize with peers in person, and parents are devising new systems in an attempt to balance work and other responsibilities, teachers are getting their virtual classrooms ready to welcome students.
As a middle school computer science teacher and parent of two high schoolers, I’m doing both. I’m ready for the professional challenges this year brings but know that I need to be a proactive parent to ensure the year goes smoothly.
Proactive parents can help calm fears, maintain routines, and sustain enthusiasm during this strange year. Here are some tips on how you can support online learning.
Recognize How Your Child is Feeling
It was hard enough when schools closed in March but now knowing schools aren’t fully opening this fall, is difficult. Kids may not be able to express their emotions in words, but chances are that’s why they’re sad and a bit anxious about what’s to come. As the virtual school year approaches, their actions may display anxiety, sadness, and anger due to missing friends, teachers, and the routine they’re used to.
Try to talk to your child, regardless of how old they are. Opening the door to a conversation and just listen. Let them vent! Acknowledging how your kids are feeling goes a long way. It shows them you’re in this together and you care.
Upgrade their Technology
Last spring during crisis schooling, parents did what they needed to in order to get by but it could be time to upgrade. Thanks to TextNow saving you money on your monthly cell bill, there’ might be a little extra to spend on more comfortable headphones, faster internet, or an external monitor. For more ideas on how to upgrade your technology for the school year, visit my post: 6 Back to School Tech Upgrades for Virtual Learning.
Communicate with Their Teacher
Since back-to-school nights aren’t likely to be in person, reach out to your child’s teacher(s) early on via email. A friendly email goes a long way, even to middle and high school teachers!
It lets them know you’re willing to be a partner in your child’s education, and you care. Also, by establishing open lines of communication early, it’s much easier to have a conversation when you have concerns later in the year. Here are a few quick tips for cultivating a positive relationship with your child’s teacher virtually:
• Send an email introducing yourself and sharing a bit about your child they might not know right away. This opens the door to communication and makes it easier to start a more difficult conversation later in the year, if needed.
• Let them know the best way to reach you and provide your cell number. Don’t assume they already have it.
• Be complimentary. Teachers are used to collaborating in face to face settings and many feel isolated because they’re not getting the positive feedback they’re used to from students, colleagues, and parents. Sending a quick note sharing something positive will always be well received!
• Resist the urge to email teachers late at night because it’s hard to close the door to a virtual classroom. Teachers want to be communicative but receiving emails all hours and the constant ability to read and respond to messages, makes them feel like we should always be available. Remember: they’re people who need to take a break from work too!
The parental limbo that we’ve been in because of COVID is hard but remember to not take frustrations out on your child’s teacher. Teachers want to be in school as much as your children do. They didn’t make the health guidelines or online schedule. They’re just as worried about the health and safety of kids as you are!
Teachers are working their hardest to provide the engaging learning opportunities that you want for your child so being kind goes a long way to helping your child have a great year.