We are in the heat of summer and the fall 2021 school year is only a few weeks away. With the unique experiences our students encountered over the last year and half, it’s never too early to prepare for the coming year. This is especially true when we consider the traumatic educational challenges our children encountered. Since January of 2020, Catherine encountered several educational transitions from private in-school to private virtual then completed middle school at public school virtual learning. For high school, we’ve elected public in-school.
To say the least, we are a bit tenuous about her final transition to in-school learning at a new and much larger population. She is not alone as every child experienced some level of transition during COVID 19 and moving back to a normal classroom setting in the fall may take substantive steps.
I’ve checked in with one of Catherine’s favorite teachers, Heather Villagomez at Notre Dame School of Dallas to get her insight on steps parents can take during the summer months to get their children ready for the fall:
Heather Villagomez and her husband David
- Take a Breath! – Yes, we’ve had setbacks in the last 18 months. With the loss of in class learning, you may observe a lag in your child’s progress. Educators are aware and understand that concessions are needed to bridge the gap.
- Get a Jump Start on their Routine – Start a back to school routine at least 2-3 weeks prior to the school year. Transition from the relaxed summer schedule back to the normal bedtime/wake up schedule for school. Try using an alarm clock to help with independence. The first few days will be tough by the lead time will give them (and you) time to adjust.
- Drive by the School to Familiarize them with the Campus. – This helps them get excited about the school year. Show them the cafeteria, buses, playground etc. This is especially helpful for Catherine as she enters a new school. We’ve talked about the new school for a few months but a visit to the location will bring it into reality for her.
- Develop a Visual Schedule that is Visible to them – bIndependence is so important with our children. Practice laying out school cloths, making a healthy lunch (let them eat out of a lunchbox now if they are picky). If you’re teaching them how to make a simple breakfast, build in the time in their schedule for them to practice making it as a part of their routine.
- Practice Social Skills. – Mimic how to make friends, sharing, connection with fist bumps and high fives. Remember our kiddos have seen people with masks, virtual and need to know how to re-engage. If your kids walk to school, speak with them about public safety and how to walk with the cross guards.
- Meet the Teacher – This important ritual is an important passage at the start of the school year. It gives students and teachers a chance to connect. Students can also familiarize themselves with their new surroundings. Catherine’s new high school invited her for a few visits before the start of the year. We cannot wait for her to embark on this new experience.
With a little groundwork and preparation, our kids transition back to school doesn’t have to be a bumpy ride. I hope these tips will help your kids start the school year on the right foot and help you keep your sanity.
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