The COVID-19 pandemic has changed how children are learning—and how parents and caregivers are supporting them.
While some families have the option of full in-person learning, others will be facilitating remote learning or implementing a hybrid of in-person and distance learning long into spring 2021, leaving parents of elementary-aged children concerned about whether they are meeting their children’s educational, emotional, and social needs. To help support you and your child as you navigate this challenging time, Rowland Hall, an independent school in Salt Lake City, Utah, offers the following tips.
Establish a School Area in Your Home
Whether your child is learning from home full time or part time, a clutter- and distraction-free zone used expressly for the purpose of schoolwork can help them get into learning mode. Try to find an area cleared of various distractions—from favorite toys, to the television, to siblings—and explain that only school work should occur in this established zone.
Set up a Daily Routine
If possible, align your family’s schedule with regular school times as well as scheduled Zoom classes to help establish a predictable routine that roughly simulates the academic environment. This can go a long way in elevating your child’s learning. Be sure to add in breaks for physical activity, lunch, and snack time to help keep your child’s attention focused when it’s time to learn. But also remember that your child’s emotional needs may need to take priority against a perfectly timed schedule—children are feeling the pressures of the current situation, too, and may require accommodations at times.
Focus on Social-Emotional Learning
Social-emotional learning can be put into practice at home. Help your student find unique ways to connect with and serve others in age-appropriate ways.
Social-emotional learning—which builds skills around empathy, identifying and managing strong emotions, peaceful problem-solving, and respectful disagreements—can be put into practice at home as well. Help your student find unique ways to connect with and serve others in age-appropriate ways. For example, families with young children can supplement academic learning by baking a special treat for a neighbor to foster friendships, teach empathy, and show kindness. Families with older children can practice how to have productive discussions on political or social issues by harnessing what our teachers call the five skills of Deliberate Dialogue—open-mindedness, speaking, listening, responding, and reflecting.
Pay Attention to Your Child’s Mental Health
Normal stresses and concerns may be amplified by the pandemic. Watch young children for behaviors that indicate depression or elevated anxiety. Symptoms may include:
• Excessive sleeping or crying
• Reversion to younger behaviors
• An increased number of temper tantrums
If you have concerns about your child’s mental health, contact their school as soon as possible for support to help protect their well-being and ability to learn.
Discuss COVID-Conscious Behaviors
While children don’t tend to experience the same severity of COVID-19 symptoms as adults, they can still be carriers of the virus. If your student is participating in a hybrid learning program, talk about the importance of hand washing and wearing masks while at school (and let your child see you model these behaviors outside of school), and make sure your student understands any rules about social distancing during play times. Emphasize why we follow these guidelines: to keep everyone safe.
Promote Safe Socialization
Developing social skills is crucial during this formative time in your child’s life, but, unfortunately, the current situation makes normal socializing difficult. Thanks to vaccines, we are getting closer to being able to return to playdates and other activities, but it’s important to remind children that we all still need to take precautions for a bit longer. Take time to brainstorm with your child ways to safely socialize with friends and family during this time—consider Zoom play dates, co-watching a movie with friends, or a pen pal. Also think about safe and creative ways to foster friendship and community, like drive-by parades, neighborhood scavenger hunts, or pop-bys where you leave a small gift or surprise on a friend’s porch.
Prepare for a Return to In-Person Learning
With the increase in vaccinations nationwide, more schools are seeing a return to in-person learning. Begin preparing your child for this change now by talking about what to expect.
With the increase in vaccinations nationwide, more schools are seeing a return to in-person learning. Some students who have been learning from home may feel nervous about returning to the classroom. Begin preparing your child for this change now by talking about what to expect. Treat the process similar to how you prepare for a first day of school—frame the return in a positive way and express excitement over seeing friends and teachers in person. Share with your child how the school will protect their health—but if your student still expresses any fears or concerns, listen with an open mind. If you need help facilitating the return, talk with your child’s teacher about developing a plan together to allay your child’s fears.
Want More Information? Speak to Our Admission Team
We understand that uncertainty around school right now can be frustrating for families and that many are considering independent private schools like Rowland Hall to better fit their elementary-aged children’s needs. If you have concerns about your child’s learning situation, or want to learn more about the Utah remote and hybrid learning models available at Rowland Hall for the 2020–2021 school year, we encourage you to inquire with our school’s Admission Team here.