Stores are filled with cute notebooks, sales on pens and pencils, lunch boxes and backpacks. It’s time to go back to school — but school is going to look very different this year. Before the bell rings, it’s important to talk to your children about what to expect to prepare them for what promises to be a challenging year. Here are some tips for starting the conversation.
Make sure you understand what the basic parameters of the school year will be like for your child so you can give them accurate information. Instruction at Waller ISD schools zoned to Dellrose begins August 24, but it will be online. Virtual school will continue through September 14 when administrators hope to provide in-person instruction. Parents are free to continue distance learning if they prefer.
Parents will need to choose virtual or on-campus instruction. Most districts are asking them to fill out a form indicating their choice. Whichever you choose, it’s important to explain to your children why you have made that choice.
Take time out of your day to sit down with your kids and discuss how they feel about the school year. Some of them may be unhappy because they will miss their friends or they don’t enjoy virtual learning. Other children may not want to return to the classroom out of fear of getting sick. Ask them open-ended questions such as, “What parts of the new school year excite you and what parts scare you?” Then listen.
We are already seeing schools shut down after starting on-campus learning. There is a very real chance that this could happen once your child returns to the classroom. Prepare them for this. Let them know that you can’t predict how things go and reassure them that you will be there to help them make the transition.
If you choose not to send your child back to school, talk to them about your expectations for getting schoolwork done. Waller ISD has put together a comprehensive online instruction program that will help guide their day. Assure them that you will help them with schoolwork just as you would if they were coming home with homework.
When children can return to the classroom, they will most likely be required to wear masks and social distance. For young children, this may be difficult as masks can feel hot and uncomfortable. Listen to their objections and then explain that they wear masks to help keep people safe (the same way a superhero wears a mask to protect themselves). Model mask wearing and social distancing. Remind teens that if they want to continue going to school with their friends, masks and social distancing could mean the difference between staying on campus with their friends or going back to virtual learning.
This will not be an easy school year for anyone so it’s important to be patient. Your kids could be experiencing grief or depression because they can’t be with their friends. They may find distance learning frustrating. Whatever it is, sit down and talk to them. Let them vent. Don’t tell them “not to worry about it” or to “just get over it.” Remind them that you are all in this together.