Back to School 2020: It's a Brave New World

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          As parents we know well the rhythm of past summers: August rolls around, kids get bored, and suddenly we are shopping for school clothes and buying notebooks and pencils. This has probably not changed much for most of you - although school outfits seem a little less necessary in the age of sweatpants and other comfy clothes for sitting in front of a computer screen!

          Some of my advice about going back to school is the same as always:

·        Start working toward an appropriate bedtime at least two weeks before school starts. Remember, children and teens need 9-10 hours of sleep to fully function.

·        Start establishing routines for daily activities that involve cognitive challenges and paper-and-pencil tasks: read a book along with your student; get out some practice math sheets; do some cooking together and double the recipe to practice fraction skills; watch a documentary together and discuss the facts presented; go on a nature walk and start a "naturalist's calendar" of what you see each time you go out; set aside "training the brain" time each day.

·        Create spaces that help to organize activities: Where will Johnny do homework? Where does the bookbag go after school? What needs to happen to make a room a suitable learning environment?

·        Start a chore list: Here's a new motto for you: "nobody lives rent free in this house!" Chores create community-centered and family-centered consciousness and provide opportunities for positively helping other family members.

·        Practice appropriate rituals for saying goodbye, saying hello when returning home, and going to sleep. Especially during the pandemic, we might best never take for granted the benefits of loving words with our loved ones.

NOW - what's different for 2020 and the likelihood of at least some on-line learning?

·        Do what you can to upgrade your Internet access and computer capability. There are numerous free resources for help here: just Google "Free Resources for NYC Families" and get connected before school begins. Contact me if I can help out with this (

·        Be sure to create the "time and place" requirements for virtual schooling. These may be the same as you always had but now may be changing due to best Wi-Fi access in your living space and the quietest spaces when younger siblings are home.

·        Set up a schedule - like we educators do in school - and do your best to stick to it on the home "virtual school" days. Teachers know the value of routine in the classroom, and when you need to be in "teacher mode" you can certainly benefit from predictable times for various activities.

·        Be sure everyone is getting enough physical activity, sleep, social time, and spiritual support. This is especially true for you as a parent: you have a lot to manage these days!

·         Be as civic minded as possible. This is a national election year: set the right example by voting and letting your children know the value of democracy in action. Also support those social causes that are dear to you. We are tasked as citizens to create each day the kind of country we want to live in, so be your most inclusive/just/generous/activist self in living your values.

Finally - and most importantly - let's be sure we realize that we are all in this together, but we have vastly different access to resources. Our families do not share the same advantages when it comes to computer equipment, income, housing space, and childcare. City Island needs to be a "beloved community" (as Martin Luther King Jr. used to say) and embrace all of its members. This is a time to be generous where you can help others, compassionate with everyone, and courageous when facing challenges.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by John published on September 15, 2020 5:13 PM.

Summer Doldrums? Create a Habit Grid for You and Your Children was the previous entry in this blog.

Allowing Ourselves and Our Children to Play in the Time of Pandemic is the next entry in this blog.

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