With all of the uncertainty about school in fall 2020, one thing is for sure: back-to-school will be different this year. But despite the changes, back-to-school can still be an exciting and positive experience for kids. It's all about consistency, tradition, and building up the anticipation. Regardless of whether your child will be participating in remote learning from home, going back to a modified in-person school situation, or homeschooling, here are a few tips to make the best of the start of this strange semester.
1. Get basic school supplies.Most students will be working virtually, but they will still need tangible supplies. Check your student's school to see if there is a suggested supply list for each grade. If you’re not sure what to get, you can’t go wrong with the basics: fresh notebooks, plain and lined paper, pencils, crayons and markers, glue sticks. For distance learning, don’t forget to get at least one pair of earbuds, or consider noise-canceling headphones if your child will be learning in a particularly busy at-home
If you need help with school supplies, check out one of the FREE drive-through school supply events happening around town. Find a list HERE.
2. Shop for new school clothes.Yes, of course pajamas will do in a pinch, but part of the fun of going back to school is getting a new outfit or two. Plus, I don't know about yours, but my kids GREW over the summer! Even though they will be home, they need some comfortable new things to wear for their school days. We shopped online and they picked out some cute shirts for video-chats and comfortable shorts and stretchy pants for sitting in front of the computer.
If your child will soon be going to school in-person, you can find fun masks for kids (and adults) locally at Mildred and Dildred, Qmulative (Southwest designs), Reid Park Zoo, and the Humane Society of Southern Arizona.
3. Create a special learning space.Find a desk, table, or a corner of the kitchen counter that your child can use for their at-home learning. Even a lap desk on a comfortable chair will work, as long as the space has plenty of light, enough of a clear surface to write and draw, a nearby outlet for the laptop, and good wifi access. Have your child help you identify the space and set it up with some personal touches, like a favorite stuffed animal or a photo of friends. One of my daughters keeps a fidget box on her desk, with slime, squeeze balls, and a fidget spinner. There are times when she feels like she can concentrate better on her schoolwork when she's holding something in her hands. I tell her to go for it! Having some comfort items in her learning space is one of the benefits of learning at home.
4.Take first day of school photos.I already informed my daughters that they will need to get up and ready on the first day of remote learning so that I can take their pictures like I do every year. This is an important tradition, and it will help the start of the new school year feel more "real". Keep your photos consitent: If you usually create a sign with their teacher’s name and grade, do that this year, too (even if the teacher’s name is Mom). If you traditionally share these photos with your social media circle, do that this year, too! You’ll want this school year to pop up in your memories, to remind you that yes, you really did all survive.
5. Continue any back-to-school traditions you’ve always done (or start a new tradition).If your family has a special tradition to help prepare for going back to school or to celebrate surviving the first day, keep that tradition going! Even if your kids only have to walk down the hall to their "classroom" the first day back to school (or the first day of school ever) is worth celebrating!
Here are some ideas to make going back to (or starting) school even more memorable:
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