This year will be an exceptional year. With the abrupt transition to remote learning in March and the varied approaches taken by each teacher, school and district, students will be at a broad spectrum of starting points. In addition, school districts will be taking an array of measures to ensure student safety when they eventually reopen facilities. As you prepare for the new school year, planning ahead will make it a smoother start, especially this fall. Here are a few steps to consider:
• Drop Everything and Read (DEAR)
Pretty much every elementary school teacher will tell you this and it is true—for all grades! Daily reading and summarizing is one of the most effective things anyone can do to improve their reading ability. Get your kids ready for a new school term by getting them into the practice of daily reading.
Aside from comic books, let your child pick a book of interest, read for 20 minutes and summarize in a journal for 10 minutes several days a week. You can also start a socially distanced neighborhood book exchange and hand off desired books when you are walking the dog. Again, reading and journaling is one of the most effective, proven ways to improve your childrens’ reading ability—from first grade through high school.
• Distance Learning Will be Part of the Plan
The California Department of Education has announced guidelines for schools to reopen and while districts have a variety of options and plans, all are likely to include continued use of distance learning and some in-person time. Make sure your student has access to a computer and internet services. Equally important, if you weren’t comfortable with Google Classroom, Zoom or Canvas, take some time to practice more before classes begin again, when there’s less pressure.
• Got Mask?
When students are on campus, they will be required to wear masks. Trying to concentrate with a mask on is a big change for kids. Take some time to find or make masks that your kids can be comfortable with if you haven’t already done so. Consider masks that can be lowered and left around your children’s neck so they can leave it on while eating and aren’t putting it on a desk surface. Once you have the type or style selected, buy or make enough to get you through a few days so you don’t need to worry about daily laundry.
• Get Supplies
District guidelines will also limit students from sharing supplies and will require students to eat snacks and lunch at their desks. Make sure your children get the items they prefer by ordering school supplies now and avoiding lines or a last-minute panic.
• Plan Now
Check your district’s plans and make sure they are in line with your family needs. If they aren’t, take some time to look for other charter or private school options.
While the summer is winding down, using a little bit of time for reviewing and preparing will help your entire family get off to a good year.
Daveen Meyers, Ed. D is a business executive turned educator, currently serving at an online charter public school and is a contributing writer to Jlife magazine.