11 Ways to Support Students This Semester
by Callie Collins
Supporting students has taken on a new meaning throughout the pandemic. Although 2021 begins with optimism for a better year overall, the issue of academics being in-person, virtual, or a combination of both looms large. Teaching and learning outside of a traditional classroom setting, presents new challenges, especially with motivation, material resources, and finding a successful approach.
It is important to recognize that both parents and teachers are doing their best right now. That effort, the best try method, is enough, even when it doesn’t always feel like it. If you need a new approach, try some of these suggestions.
Try a new routine: Work with your child to create a routine that works for everyone involved. Getting their buy-in is key. Don’t let past issues stand in the way of a fresh start. Knowing what not to do can be just as important as you continue to move forward.
Go outdoors: If the usual routine isn’t working, or even if it is, take the lesson outdoors. Research continually shows the benefits of outdoor play and children’s improved cognitive abilities while learning in nature. Soak up the sun with a change of scenery.
Trade lessons: If you are your child’s teacher this semester, consider trading lessons with other parents. For example, if you enjoy history, consider teaching it in exchange for French lessons or help with math. Everyone is good at something in school and it comes back quickly if you loved it in another phase of life. You don’t have to be good at everything to make it work.
Connect with others: Whether you’re in a virtual classroom or come together through social-distancing, there are ways to find peers. Talk with other parents or caregivers. Let children see and hear each other.
Get outside help: Whether your child isn’t finding the right fit in their academic setting or you’re struggling as the parent-turned-teacher, there’s no shame in admitting when something is not working. Many options exist for a child’s education. Talk with teachers and administrators, get a tutor, or look at what else is available. Don’t go at it alone.
Find study resources: Local libraries offer a range of services that are virtual and free of charge. Free WIFI is also available in the parking lots of most local libraries.
Drop everything and read: Early childhood experts cite reading as the main predictor of a child’s likelihood of attending college. Take a break with a favorite book. Let older readers show you their favorite books and share your own favorites with the youngest family members who cannot yet read.
Be mindful of basic needs: Hunger, fatigue, and safety rank on basic needs hierarchies. If your child is struggling during school lessons, try a snack, a break, and assurances that this too shall pass. If you need help with food assistance, your local school district has resources available. Other resources exist in our community as well including, Boys & Girls Club, Central California Food Bank, local food pantries, and more. Visit ccparent.com/resources/while-kids-are-home for more information, including free learning website and tips from educators.
Focus on other issues: Set a timer for 20 minutes and do something else. Put schoolwork aside and take a break or break out something else your kids need to learn about. Teaching life skills is also valuable, like how to boil an egg, sew on a button, or use the washing machine. Safety first is the key to age-appropriate activities.
Host an “old school” day: Stream old TV shows like Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood or The Joy of Painting with Bob Ross and share your own childhood experiences with your kids. Love and nostalgia can be unifying.
Name it to tame it: Talk through the problems. Write down what’s bothering you. Phone a friend or make a virtual therapy appointment. Your child may also need to speak with others who can help. School counselors, pastors, friends, and family can be a resource at this time. Although we may not be able to reach out in person, people still need one another.
At Central California Parent, we recognize the challenges of teaching children this year and the extraordinary response required. Be encouraged and know that your effort is enough. Parenting in a pandemic is new to everyone! You have pressed on and prevailed. Rest assured, you’ve made the best of these unusual circumstances. We join with you in hoping for a better year for our children.
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