A new academic year is approaching, and this year, school has a different feel to it! While it is understandable that parents are feeling added stress due to uncertain dynamics, it is important to recognize that no one is alone in navigating this journey. With that said, there are some tried and true ways that balancing the role of parenting, teacher, and even employee can feel somewhat more manageable as we move forward into tackling a new school year.
- Designate a ‘school space’: Work with your child to identify and design a space where their academic work will take place. Help them create space that models an ideal learning environment.
- Make sure to review the instructions given by the child’s teacher: How will lessons be delivered? Does the child need to tune into lectures at a particular time? Are there certain dates that require taking note on? Once the parent is familiar with the structure of the class and expectations, they can begin making a game plan for how to tackle the year.
- With that said, it is important to create a routine: Children (and who are we kidding, adults too) thrive off of structure. It is beneficial to create a routine that the child and parent are both able to follow.
It is important to structure the day in a way the child is able to understand. For example, if they are not at the reading age, it could be beneficial to create a schedule using pictures or icons of the events for the day, as well as using timers. *Keep in mind a child’s attention span is their age in minutes (i.e a 7 year old is only able to actively pay attention for 7 consecutive minutes).* Make sure to schedule times for food, stretching, and brain breaks.
Additionally, if the school schedule is able to be flexible, use this to your advantage! Maybe it could be helpful for the child to sleep in a bit so you can attend your conference call without additional stress of setting up Zoom. There is no one ‘one size fits all’ method. Use this to your advantage!
- Balance the parent and teacher role: lines can get a bit blurred during this time. Be sure to remind your child (and yourself) that you are (most likely) not a teacher and you are here to learn WITH your child. You are a facilitator in this situation. However, remember, you were your child’s first teacher, before they were in school. You have the ability to educate them and help them make sense of the world!
- Take this as a teachable moment: “What is going on in our world can feel pretty scary. We are doing our part to make our world heal and keep everyone safe.” We are doing our part to promote safety and wellbeing for ourselves and others. And I might be a bit biased in my career as a therapist, but isn’t that really our ultimate goal?!
- Reward yourself and your child for a job well done: a sticker, a high five, and even bonus screen time can go a long way. We are often our toughest critics but remember that you are doing the best you can, and that is enough!