Many of us still don’t know exactly what school is going to look like in August but one thing is for sure: no matter when our children go back to school school life is going to look quite different and most likely for a good while. So we put a call out to the DoSayGive readers who are also amazing teachers, asking what things moms could be doing at home to help prepare their children for the classroom if and when their children go back to the classroom.
Even if your children aren’t going to school these things will be helpful for other situations that arise during the pandemic, particularly younger children.
1. Practice Wearing a Mask For Longer Periods of Time.
Practice wearing a mask everyday, building up to wearing an entire day. That will help teachers and hopefully reduce the amount of touching and fidgeting. We have a post with the best fitting face masks as well as visors and gaiters. A lanyard might help as well!
Practice mask wearing is important even if your child isn’t going to school. You never know what situation might arise where your child may be expected to wear a mask.
2. Practice Washing Hands Properly.
Since you won’t be right next to your child at school making sure he or she is washing his hands thoroughly make sure he is doing it consistently at home. For younger children practice with a silly song or counting to 20.
3. Practice First Time Listening.
First time listening is respectful to teachers but it’s also a safety measure to protect your children.
I tell my children they need to listen to me immediately when I give them instructions because they may not see or be aware of what I see. For example, if I tell them to stop on the sidewalk they may not realize a car is backing up or there is a snake on the ground.
Same thing at school. We want our children to be in the habit of first time listening in case there is an emergency or urgent situation and that especially applies during a pandemic. For example, if the teacher tells your child to keep her hands to herself you want him to listen!
4. Talk to them about personal space.
Most young children don’t know about personal space or why it is respectful and (now) a safety measure. We have to have reasonable expectations for children but it’s good to start talking about that now.
5. Practice Unzipping Backpacks and Opening Lunch Containers.
These seemingly mindless tasks can actually take up a good bit of a teacher’s time in the morning and during lunch. If a teacher has to do this during COVID she will have to take even more take washing her hands in between helping each child. (Again, these are good things to practice with preschoolers and kindergarteners before school starts regardless of COVID!). Maybe even have a practice day where you run through all the things he will be doing at school. See our favorite lunch containers and backpacks here.
6. Shop for items that are easy for your child to open.
Again, it’s about minimizing time and exposure. It may not be the time to stress about getting your child to tie her shoes. One more semester or two of velcro Nikes won’t make any difference in the long run.
7. Talk to Them.
It’s good to be truthful but age appropriate. Tell them what is going to be different so they are prepared the first day. Be positive and encouraging. If you have complaints about the school or policy don’t let them hear your venting. Your attitude affects their attitude!
8. Get Familiar with Any Virtual Learning Programs.
If your child is starting out virtually the first weeks or doing a hybrid program, get familiar with the programs, logins, etc. before the first day of school. Make sure you have iPads updated, plenty of storage space on computers, etc. It might be good to invest in headphones or airpods for children who get distracted by other things going on in the house. Think about problem areas during spring virtual learning and try to troubleshoot before school starts.
9. Read, Read and Read Some More.
Many parents are worried their children got behind during the spring semester. The number one request teachers made in our poll was to read to and with your children before school starts! If they can read or are learning to read, twenty minutes a day can make such a difference in early readers. Reading aloud also to children has huge benefits for practicing sitting still and reading comprehension and vocabulary. If your child was given math fact flashcards or anything like that last year you can pull those out these last few weeks of summer as well.