Here in Los Angeles we have been on lockdown, quarantining, and out of school since March. While we, like other parents, had hoped that school would resume within a few weeks of it ending but alas it didn’t. Now here we are in the first full week of school perched in front of computers. It isn’t anyone’s ideal situation and though we long for things to be different this is where we’ve landed. With two school-aged children each starting at new schools I’ve been working hard to ensure their excitement isn’t waning. Knowing that other parents are also going through the same things, I want to offer some foolproof ways to get your kids excited for school during a pandemic.
I don’t know about you but for me each September came with a stomach full of butterflies. Excitement radiating and coursing through my veins as I perused aisles for new school supplies. Always elated when the summer was coming to a close and I would once again be in a classroom learning. For me school was a haven, a place where I shined and thrived. Thankfully my own girls seem to have taken on that same love of learning, overjoyed at the thought of reading, writing, and being amongst friends. Unfortunately a global pandemic has made it so that they aren’t getting the traditional experience that they’re used to.
For starters, stop using the word normal…
As hard as it may be, one of the things I have stopped saying with regards to school is, “things aren’t normal.” Some of you may have instantly said to yourselves, “But Leslie, they aren’t.” For intents and purposes, you’re right, they aren’t. However normal is relative. What had become our way of “normal” was not always that way. And by the looks of things will likely not be again. This isn’t a bad thing, it’s a just a fact. Normalities ebb and flow, changing with the times and where society is. The same way my mother had home economics in junior high and my middle school had axed the class long before I showed up. Our children will likely return to the classroom but it is unlikely that they will remain the same. Whether that is in size or proximity, things will look different.
Validate Their Feelings Without Joining In
It is my opinion that the sooner we stop emphasizing on how abnormal this entire situation is, the sooner we will begin to adapt. What I’ve been telling my girls as they talk about how much they hate everything is, all will be well. I am aware that being at school at home, without friends, or in person interaction is terrible. There is nothing untrue about that. However in general I do my best to maintain a sense of peace and positivity in my home to keep everyone grounded. So yes, you get room to express your feelings and be upset, but then we have to move on. In order to encourage a positive spirit about school that’s foolproof, you have to have one first. Don’t join them on the complain train.
Create Spaces For School That Excite
Growing up I lived most of my life in very small quarters. In fact I shared a room with my mom and my sister largely up until I left for college. That said, I understand the need to make a space your own. When people feel ownership over something, they are more likely to want to be there. Prior to school starting I decided that I was going to do some major upheavals to how my home was laid out. No longer just a place for to eat, sleep, and convene; I had to be intentional about delineating space where learning was encouraged. Children are used to bulletin boards, posters, designated tables and more for school. Try to make some of that present in your home. Though my desire isn’t for my home to resemble a daycare I have found ways to introduce a school environment that’s still aesthetically pleasing.
For example, I needed a place for the daily art to live instead of taking over my refrigerator doors. To do that I purchased cork foam boards and used double stick tape to create floating bulletin boards. My kids instantly had a place to showcase their projects and I got my fridge back. Plus it was a much better way to conduct visual learning which is really key for children – young and old.
Don’t Skip Out On Shopping Totally
If you’re like me and your schools are engaging in daily, live, classes where children must present and ready to learn, school shopping was still necessary. For many of us we thought we would be able to coast through the school year in sweats and tees like we have since March. Now I recognize over 100 days into this journey that my children, like me, thrive on looking their best. When they are in pajamas or comfy clothes, as can them, all day; well truthfully, they feel how they look. Ready for bed. Even if you decide to forgo the full back to school re-up I would suggest shopping for a few fun tees and casual pants. Something they will feel comfortable in and be happy to show up in on camera if they have to.
I definitely don’t have the timeline for when we will all escape from this absolute shitshow we’re in, but I am committed to making the best of it that I can. It is important to me that my kids still take school just as seriously as they typically would and that they glean from it what they need. Surely having to do anything that isn’t in our wheelhouse can throw us for a loop, but I am convinced that these three tips can help create a foolproof plan to making school work for you and your kids this year.
Do you have any tips that you can share? Teachers or parents, how can we make things more easy for ourselves or you this school year? Let’s help each other not just survive 2020 but thrive in what’s left!