No matter where you live, what grade your child is in, or what school they attend, “back to school” has been a challenge this year. Schools have resumed with class size changes, remote learning, and a variety of masks, face shields, and goggles. We assume children are flexible and will accommodate change, but they do this best with the encouragement of their parents. Meanwhile, stressed parents are trying to balance careers, online learning, and ever-changing classroom policies. Encouraging their children’s love of learning can be incredibly challenging at this time. If you’re wondering what you can do to help your child continue to love school, here are five suggestions that may help.
1. Encourage your child to participate in creating their learning area within your home. Kids get excited when they can co-create their own space. A small area can be as nice as a large area when decorated with chalk boards or poster boards. Keep it inexpensive, but let the child personalize it with favorite colors and good lighting. A secondhand desk and old backpack work just as good as a new one when it is cleaned and new stickers are carefully placed by your child.
2. Get excited about what your child is learning at school and try to expand on it at home. Children enjoy learning more when parents ask questions about what they are studying. When kids go over their studies with their parents and the parents listen to learn from their child, it makes the child feel more confident and excited about what they are learning.
3. Listen without judgement to your children when they complain about an assignment, Zoom meeting, or whatever they are struggling with in school. Online classes and learning with a mask on can disrupt some children’s attention. Being seen on a video screen in front of others is difficult for some children as well. Children learn to dislike school when they struggle. When parents talk with them and understand why their child is complaining without judging them, they get a better understanding of why their child is upset. Changing a setting or set-up on a web camera can take the pressure off timid children. Getting additional help from educators when your child is struggling can help them feel more confident and less alone. Sometimes kids don’t want to attend school because they are afraid to tell their parents they are struggling in a class.
4. Don’t lose your cool or catastrophize the situation. If you’re up all night worrying about your child’s education, you’re not alone. Being honest that this is a challenging time helps your child build resistance and a growth mindset. Learning to adapt to new things and problem solving together is a sign of maturity.
5. Remember the most important lessons teach kindness and compassion. Education is important to your child’s success but so is kindness and compassion for others. To be well-educated means to think before you react and consider other’s perspectives. If you’re unable to relate and work harmoniously with others, you’ll be limited in your success no matter how smart you are. Model kindness and consideration for your partner and others so your children will know it looks and feels like.
Children are aware of the limitations of the pandemic. It’s important that parents encourage them to see the light at the end of the tunnel and feel optimistic about their education and excited about what they are learning from the experience.