By Patricia R. Williams M.S. Ed, MS-ABA, BCAT, CFPS Family Peer Support Referral Specialist
With many school districts choosing to begin the school year with some variation of a virtual environment, this year will be another one for the record books. Even if last year ended in frustration with the virtual format, we are here to make this year’s transition a bit easier for you and your child with our top five tips for a successful back to school. These tips are designed to not only engage your child academically, but to head off frustrations that are bound to happen—before they occur.
- Set expectations.
Sit down with your child (or children) and ask them what they need to be successful. Come up with a list of “classroom” rules and expectations. Even if your child is familiar with your family rules, it is confusing when your home is now a school too! If your child is engaged in making the rules they will be less likely to break them.
- Practice time management.
When we are juggling work, raising children, and now being an educator, time management is an area where we can make an important impact.
- Set a schedule – Make a visual schedule of how your child’s day will look. Allow them to design it and their workspace so that they feel empowered and in control of their own success. If things get off track during the day, refer them (and yourself!) back to the schedule to get on track.
- Take frequent breaks – Sitting at a computer is HARD WORK! It is important to get kids up and moving periodically to decrease boredom and increase attention. Schedule a 15-minute break in between “classes” to soak up the sun, get fresh air and move those muscles.
- Make time for friends, virtually - Remember that we all need human interaction. Arrange to have your child connect virtually with a classmate, or attend a virtual club (ask your child’s school or local library for opportunities). Attend one of MCF’s many virtual support groups, trainings or book clubs to connect with other parents because you need interaction, too.
- Don’t be too hard on your child…or yourself.
We are all navigating new and turbulent waters (even though it feels like it’s been going on forever). Make sure to cut your child, and yourself some slack. It is okay if your child wants an extra break today. It’s okay if you can’t explain how to find the answer to a math problem.
- Ask for help.
Know your support system and use it. This can include your child’s teacher, your child’s school, local special education groups, or your MCF Family Peer Support Specialist! When you think you are at your wit’s end, reach out for help. We are all in this together and asking for help doesn’t mean that you are a failure, it means that you are empowered to get the help you and your child need.
- Use positive rewards—for you and your child.
Is it Friday yet? Celebrate small successes! Building in small rewards for your child can motivate your child and keep them on track. Did your child work hard today? Reward them with 10 minutes more of TV, take a nightly neighborhood walk with the family or play a board game after dinner. Reward yourself too! Self-care is so important, so put your feet up for an in-home movie night, or sleep an extra 30 minutes on a school day. These little rewards will give everyone something to look forward to.
To connect with MCF staff for one-to-one support and guidance, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 410-730-8267.