(This article focuses on helping kids who will be attending school physically. If your child will be in a virtual school, please see this article instead)
Pens. Pencils. Paper. Folders. Typically, in the heat of July and early August, teachers, parents and kids alike are browsing the store shelves, hunting for that perfect piece of classroom decor or locker accessory.
This year is different.
As a teacher and a mom of two sons, I’ve watched this summer fly by faster than any other. Our days are made of lazy mornings and warm New Jersey weather, but our peaceful retreat has been interrupted by the approach of what has officially become The Most Dreaded School Year Ever.
Even after nearly 20 years of teaching in New Jersey’s public schools, the beginning of a new school year still makes me nervous. This year, I don’t even know what I should worry about!
Should I worry about having enough hand sanitizer and PPE in my classroom, or should I buy scrubs to wear, like some of my colleagues? Should I focus on the habits of my 12 year-old son, a young man who is bright, but stopped completing assignments near the end of last year’s remote learning? Or on the needs of my 3 year-old, who has qualified for the district’s handicapped preschool program?
Pandemic parenting is hard, and it’s getting even harder as we approach the fall. As we hurtle closer to the ceremonial first day of school, major questions about our schools in the COVID-19 era have not yet been settled, including whether students will arrive at buildings on the appointed day, or pull up a chair at the dining room table to continue the virtual learning that took place during the spring.
So, in the midst of so many unknowns, the question arises: How can I prepare my students, my own kids and myself for school in the middle of a pandemic? As a parent and a teacher experiencing both sides of these challenges, here are some things I am doing that might help your family prepare, too. [Read more…]