No Matter What Back to School Looks Like This Year, Here's How to Make Sure Your Kid Thrives
Back to school usually comes with a flurry of activity and excitement — shopping for new supplies, learning a new class schedule, and getting a new desk to call your own. However, this year is likely going to a look a little different. Whether your kid is heading back into the classroom in some way or they're going to continue learning at home, it's still important to start the school year off with the same level of enthusiasm.
We've rounded up a few easy ways to help your kid get back into the swing of things this fall, no matter where the lessons are taking place. We also know that it may take more than a minute for you to get back into a productive schedule when you're trying to manage your own workload and a kid at home. That's why we're giving you these five tips to use as a guide, not as steadfast must-dos. Because while we want everyone in the house to be engaged and thriving during the back-to-school season, we also know sometimes life gets in the way — and that's totally ok.
Create a Unique Workspace
It's likely that you feel more productive and grounded when you have a comfortable (and clean!) workspace with all the things you need throughout the day — and a few personal items like plants or pictures to keep you stimulated. So it makes sense that your kid should also have their own space, especially if all or the majority of their school days are spent at home. Help them create a space that feels uniquely like them. Perhaps they have their own desk, a space at the dining table, or a designated corner of the living room to get their work done.
This is also a great opportunity to instill principles of cleanliness and hygiene into their day-to-day routine. Hold them accountable for tidying up their own space, and encourage them to use the space just for school work, rather than eating their messy lunch or snacks in the same area. But even school work and projects can create a mess! So their desk is always clean and disinfected, make sure to give their at-home workspace a deep clean with Clorox® Disinfecting Wipes. When used as directed, they kill 99.9 percent of germs that live on hard, nonporous surfaces, so you can feel confident that your child can take on the school day safely.
Create a Family Schedule
When everyone is working from home or even just spending so much more time at home, it's helpful to keep track of everyone in your family's daily schedule. For younger kids, this is a good way to teach them time management and make sure they're being productive while still having fun. Set aside specific times for crafts, schoolwork, outdoor exercise, naptime, and meals.
You could even carve out 30 minutes every day and enlist friends and family to give fun virtual lessons on different subjects that wouldn't necessarily be covered in school. Think: gardening, scrapbooking, pet training, or whatever your kid is into.
For older kids, this could be a good way to set family boundaries during the day. There could be specific times when parents are working or in their own meetings and need to not be disturbed. On the flip side, kids could carve out an hour to themselves where parents aren't allowed in their room.
Even if you are a little too busy in the morning to spend an extra second filling out your own schedule, encourage your kids to try and get into the habit of planning out their day so they can stay on track.
Make Lunchtime Into an Activity
Extra time at home also means more opportunities for cooking. Use lunchtime as an educational moment and find fun, kid-friendly recipes to try out a few days a week. You could teach your kids about meal planning while you're at it. Do a little research over the weekend on what recipes you want to try, then get your groceries together so you're ready for the week's meals. And to make this even more busy-day friendly, prep everything on Sunday and put the finished meals in containers in the fridge or freezer so lunches are ready to grab and go when schedules are hectic.
Mealtime could also be a good teaching moment for your older kids — just because they're at home doesn't mean they should revert back to relying on mom or dad to make them meals. Especially if you're a working parent, empower your kid to take ownership of their own health and cook themselves their own lunches while you're not available to help.
Schedule Virtual Homework Dates With Friends
Because your kids are likely unable to socialize as much as they would normally through study groups, after-school sports, and extracurriculars, make sure they're still getting face time with their friends. Set up virtual hangs for your kids and their buddies both for completing schoolwork or just to chat. You could even set up virtual competitions if your child is super into sports, or even just has a competitive spirit — perhaps they keep track of different activities they do throughout the week and compare with their teammates to win simple prizes.
Make a Craft Project Out of School Supplies
Remember how exciting it was to stock up on all new school supplies before you started the new year? Even if your child won't be heading into a classroom this fall, it's important to still keep up the same level of excitement to keep them engaged in their studies. Repurpose some of the items you may have left over from last year and make them into a fun craft project. Before school starts, have a crafting day and have your kid personalize all their supplies. Use puffy paint on pens and pencils, put stickers on binders and notebooks, and encourage them to make each item feel new and fun.