As your children begin to transition back into the classroom, life will yet again change for your family. Routines, either altered or dropped as we moved into the COVID online learning world, will need to be re-established and tailored to fit the new reality of our kids going back to school. It can seem overwhelming to think about the logistical problems to solve, especially if in-person is only for a fraction of a day. Maybe we can use this time as a learning opportunity for our kids. We all want to raise critical thinkers who can break down a complex problem to understand it and then develop solutions. By modeling and explaining how we solve problems as adults, and by providing actual life practice with real-life issues, our children get the chance to become capable solution finders. As tricky as transition feels right now, it may be a great time to lean into your child’s innate problem-solving powers. Check out this article on how to develop these skills so they feel like superpowers.
Getting ready for school: In-person days require kids to be up and dressed and ready to be out in public versus merely brushing teeth and doing class from bed. The list of all that needs to happen before the bus arrives is a long one. Rather than reminding, coaxing, or yelling, sit down to brainstorm the list with your child, having your child come up with an order that makes sense to them. If they can create a routine chart they can use as a checklist, it will allow your children to have both input and a tool to use for some autonomy around the process.
Homework and schoolwork: How and when will homework or asynchronous work get done? How will your child keep track of what assignments are due when? These are areas where your kids will be an integral part of finding a system that works. Ask them what role you can play to help support their efforts, with boundaries around when you will be on call for help. Part of your involvement might be a scheduled check-in at the beginning of the week to hear the plan and at the end of the week to see how the plan worked and if and how it needs to be adjusted.
Bedtime: Teachers report that students are having a lot of difficulty with endurance and stamina once they go back to buildings. They are unused to using the kind of energy it takes to get through a school day. Even if it is not for an entire day, school is taking extra effort. Learning new procedures, reading the facial expressions only from the upper part of peoples’ faces, trying to interpret body language, managing being together with groups for the first time, establishing friendships, learning in-class rules. All of this is exhausting. Clear bedtime routines allowing for good sleep had fallen by the wayside in COVID days; now is the time to set some expectations and decide together on comforting evening routines that will encourage early enough bedtimes and sound sleep.