By far, 2020 is surely a year for the history books. Every element of our lives, even things that felt intrinsic and inherent to our days, have been altered. This includes the school year, and how parents are expected to navigate their children’s education.
The most important and integral step when venturing into the new school year, is for parents to center themselves. While things may feel chaotic, there’s a lot of value in maintaining one’s own sense of clarity. Parents and individuals alike may be grasping to control all of the ever-changing elements of the world around them. However, much of this isn’t necessary.
Engage in a regular practice of level-setting. Are your foundational needs being met? Overall, are your children clear on the next steps in the school year? You may not have all of the answers right now, but you also don’t need to have all of the answers to provide a sense of clarity to the household. Establish yourself as the constant in your child’s life. When they notice that you seem calm and capable of navigating the new school year, and all of the changes in the world, they’ll feel equally as relaxed.
Another important step to take this fall, is to make the necessary accommodations to your schedule to make room for the new changes in the year. Even if you’re not quite certain how your child’s new schedule will look, you’ll feel a lot of peace in having a few options in front of you. If possible, designate a few family members, friends, or neighbors as potential contact points if you find yourself needing to adjust your schedule last minute. Are there any after-school activities (sports, clarinet lessons, art classes) that will help occupy your child’s time, if you need extra at-home-office time to finish work? Predict the potential schedule challenges that could arise, and make a list of suitable options that could easily answer to these challenges if they were to come to fruition. Rather than allowing the worry to crowd your mind and overwhelm you, you may find that addressing the concerns head on and with hypothetical plans could alleviate much of the worry.
Is your child going to be learning from home this year? If so, consider designating a personalized space for them in your home. Much like a home-office for adults, your child may feel excited and more focussed if they have a clear separation of “home space” and “learning space” in the home. Decorating and picking out small details for this space may also help them grow excited for the school year, and more eager to get into the school spirit. Even if it’s a corner or nook of a room, your child may very much benefit from a space of their own. Allow them to have decision making power with the look and feel of such a space; this could give them a sense of control and predictability that will help them feel balanced.
A final tip for going into the new school year, is to leave yourself room to be flexible to change as it comes. You’ll quickly exhaust yourself if you try to lead a controlled, completely structured, and rigid series of days with little room for adjustment. The entire world is going through an unprecedented time right now, and with that will come moments in which it’s most beneficial to allow yourself the freedom to simply relax. Give yourself, and your children, the space to have questions, to shift the “norm”, and to respond to the daily happenings with flexibility.
Be kind to yourself, and encourage your children to do the same. You’ll make it through the school year, and you’ll likely look back with pride and a sense of achievement. Make the necessary adjustments that allow you to live each day with confidence. Make a plan that will equip you while carrying a demeanor that inspires you to go with the flow when necessary.