How Should Parents Prepare for Back to School, 2020 Style?

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Don’t let August 13th sneak up on you. True, this year is going to be like no other.  But, e-learning or not, there are things you need to do to get your family ready for the first day of school in 2020.

Here’s a little practical guidance to get your family ready. Leave a comment with any other tips to help set the tone for a great year.

Prepare the supplies.

Every spring, elementary and middle schoolers in Frisco ISD have the option to pre-order school supplies. If you opted for that, and also opted for on-campus learning, you may be staring at that big brown box that showed up at your doorstep wondering what to do with it.

Keep the hope alive — keep the box intact. Kids won’t be sharing supplies when they arrive in the classroom. They will need to bring their own at some point.

Pre-ordered box or not, don’t get overwhelmed thinking you need to have it all. You probably already have what you need in your house to get started on August 13th. Be sure to have the basic supplies appropriate for your child’s grade level — notebooks, binders, pencil/pens, erasers, crayons, scissors, calculators (high school).

And don’t forget the notebook paper — searching for paper in my home office space at the last minute was a regular thing for our e-learning last Spring. Stock up and put it in the kids’ workspace.

Create a space.

I’ll be honest. We pieced together makeshift workspaces for March and April. Our kids did their e-learning from anywhere, including the couch. It wasn’t our finest moment, but our only objective at that time was to survive that strange time.

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If your home allows, make space for the kids to have their own seat and desk, with a place to organize their basic supplies. Choose a space that’s quiet, comfortable, well lit, and appropriate for virtual meetings.

Frisco ISD classes will be synchronous, which means they’ll be attending class throughout their school day. Try to avoid kitchen noises and television in the background. And speaking of background, talk to your kids about where they’ll be comfortable. Together, your family can prepare an appropriate space — you can move furniture around, light the space, and get your kids ready to confidently present themselves to their teacher and class on-screen.

Get back to a routine.

It’s tempting to keep that summer schedule on autopilot a little longer since there’s no carpool drop off or late bell on August 13th. Fight the urge. For virtual learning this year, students will follow their daily bell schedule. For example, morning circle time or class meetings for elementary school students will happen at the time it would if they were sitting in their classroom.

For high schoolers, their school day will start during their first-period classtime. Your campus will communicate your specific times and schedules with you.

Set alarm clocks, brush teeth, bathe, get dressed, eat breakfast, and tackle each day as if you were headed to campus.

Prepare the Mind

This is hard. Most of us have never attempted the first day of school like it will be this year. No teacher hugs, no excitement to see friends after the summer break, no lunchroom social hour, no playground time.

This is hard on students, teachers, staff, and parents. We have to accept that there are some inconsistencies with how we want it to go down. We have to be mindful that the pace might not be the pace we expect on day one, or even on day 100. Keeping an open mind and a positive outlook might be one of the biggest gifts you can model for your children this time around.

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Children can become anxious when things feel out of control or hard, but empathy from you could be the difference in them suffering alone or having an outlet to ask for help. Children’s Health shares 5 tips to manage your child’s anxiety, along with videos and programs to help support mental, emotional, and behavioral health.

They’re watching us react. They’re listening to our conversations. They’re a reflection of you and they feel your stress about school. Negativity from parents and teachers will not serve students well. They need to see their parents smile and look forward to figuring it out and making the best of a new school year with expected bumps along the way.

Start talking to your kids now to help prepare them mentally. They need to understand what the day will look like. They need to see parents giving grace to the teachers and to the leaders. They need to know they’ll be okay and they’ll be supported.

Frisco ISD’s Counselors send newsletter tips that can help. Subscribe to the Guidance and Counseling Newsletter, as well as other FISD communications about district updates, news, events, athletics, and fine arts.

Communicate often.

When you have questions, go to your child’s elementary school teacher or to the support team of teachers and counselors at your middle school and high school. Build the necessary relationships through communication with parties who share an interest in helping your students flourish.

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Give them grace, give them a chance to work with you. It’s very easy and tempting to vet your questions or concerns on social media or via heated text messages to fellow parents. Facts can get blurred, and details that pertain to your household may not be consistent with a parent stating their situation as fact on Facebook.

Communicate with your teacher, and don’t forget to be that positive role model we’re trying to be for our kids at all times.

Set expectations.

Some students might think it’s free time because of the relaxed e-learning environment they might have experienced in April and May (admittedly, we coasted to wrap up the school year). The course you plot out will be the path your students take. No expectations mean no purpose and no achievement. Talk to your kids about what you expect from them this school year. Have those conversations before August 13th.

A new year, a new teacher, maybe a new school — let’s look at it as an opportunity for growth. We can all dig deep and do what we need to do. When we look back on our unusual first day of school pictures — 2020 style — we’ll realize we’re stronger because of it.