It feels very different, but schools will be reopening. By now, you have probably made the decision to either send your student to school or keep them home. Whatever decision you have made, know that there isn’t a wrong one. There’s no perfect decision here. That’s why I think it’s so important to get some tips in your hands to help you with the upcoming school year no matter if you are sending your students back in person or virtually.
I’m sending my student to school
If you are sending your student back to school. They’re probably ecstatic, especially if they are the type to love being social. However, it goes with out saying that things aren’t going to look normal, there will be a new normal. I think we can all agree that sometimes students forget to look at the big picture. If we look at the big picture we will see that classroom interactions will be different, lunchtime will be different, after school clubs will be different, sports will be different, and how we interact at all these events will be different.
Students may not see that right now because they probably have a who cares mentality. That is understandable because their frontal cortex isn’t fully developed, (this psychology class has been very timely), and in turn can make them feel invincible.
So what can you do to help them prepare for what’s to come?
- Help your student understand that things are going to be different and be prepared, they tend to know everything so they might give that sigh and eye roll. But if we use follow up questions like, “How do you think your interactions with your friends during school hours will be different?” “If someone appears to be sick or not feeling well, how do you handle that?”, that will help start the conversation. It shows that we want to hear them.
- Have them in on the decision of sending them to school. Students love behind the scenes so if they are part of the decision making process they’re going to feel empowered and will be more acceptable to what decision is ultimately made.
- What happens if there’s an outbreak? Have a conversation with your student/s about action steps on what to do if they learn that someone at school has tested positive for COVID. Prepare them for the possibility they return home to learn online if the situation warrants.
I’m keeping my student home (Or if your student is homeschooled and your homeschool system has temporarily paused get together activities.)
If you’re keeping your student home from school this fall, there are a lot of things that your student may or may not be feeling. They could be really happy if they are an introvert, no social interaction? No prob. Online school? Easy. Or your student is distraught because, “all my friends are going back”, sound familiar? Either way, keeping your student home from school is not a bad decision. Remember, there isn’t a bad or perfect decision. Whatever decision is made brings its own pros and cons.
So what can we do to help them prepare for what’s to come?
- Connect with them. Have a heart-to-heart with them. Get excited for something that gets them excited! I was once showed a video by a student of him doing an ASMR video – he was literally just eating lettuce WAY too close to a mic. He has so much excitement on his face, it made me excited. Was it cool? No. Was it gross? Absolutely. But it was something that excited him and to see that someone else was excited for him, built a connection that is still active today. Here are some questions you could ask to help connect you; when do you feel closest to God? How can I pray for you this week? What do you think about Church? Are there ways you would want to serve in our Church or community? How did it make you feel when [insert issue] happened? What’s your favorite part of that game?
- Take advantage of the empty schedules. Fill the time where they would normally be doing homework to do something as a family – board games, taking a walk, paint their room a crazy color or design, bike ride, family dinner time with no electronics, family devotional time. Use this opportunity to grow closer together.
- Encourage social media and social interaction through technology. Humans are social creatures, we thrive on social interaction and while growing we develop our brains through what we learn but also by interacting with others. School is the largest point of social interaction that students experience. There are so many different ways for your students to connect with friends while being safe. One of those ways is through Netflix Watch Party, it’s a free google chrome plugin that allows you and your friends to watch TV shows together. While RHC is working towards getting you content on how to allow students to use social media and technology safely, this video explains how to set parental controls for the watch party. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JRSXMOw4jvQ. Watch Party is also a great way to video chat with any friends they have, its not zoom so it gives the students a break from what the schools are using.
- Encourage social media breaks. It is also important to set some screen time limitations, we all can agree its never a good thing to be locked into a screen too long. If you have an iPhone or Apple product you can set up your students screen time settings by going to settings>screen time, once you are there you can turn it off or on and set your perimeters. It also shows you where your student is spending their time the most and what websites they’re visiting and spending the most time on. If you have an Android, I’m sorry. Just kidding, although I’m an Apple freak, Android has some great parental functions as well but from my research I have not found where it is built into the phone, if you are an Android user and know where that is, I’d love to talk and find out more. There is however, an app I have recommended in the past called Family Time App, it is very affordable – $3 a month for a whole family – and easy to use. You can set timers for your students phone and app usage and see all things that people using screen time with apple can see. You can find the website here – https://familytime.io.
I don’t have all the answers but what I do know is that when we partner together we all win. If you have suggestions or questions on anything in the above blog, please shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.