Aug 14, 2020
This is usually the time of year when parents begin to welcome the return of a normal routine, and children start to get excited about returning to school, starting new classes and seeing their friends. This year, however, many children and parents have no idea what the return to school will look like or whether it will even happen in some districts.
States, districts and even the federal government are offering conflicting messages. Even scientists are continually modifying their advice based on new research and the changing course of the pandemic. What hasn’t changed is that parents want their children to be healthy and academically successful. For many parents making decisions on how best to accomplish this, is an ongoing challenge and a source of stress.
With the start of the school year rapidly approaching, there seems to be little clarity from most school districts on what learning will look like this year. The evolving nature of the pandemic is only making matters worse. For parents craving certainty, this is a huge problem.
Experts have several suggestions for dealing with this continuous uncertainty.
School districts are floating several options. They are proposing staggered classes or partial return to classes in the form of small cohorts attending on alternate days, for example. Many school districts lack the funds to adequately put into action the recommendations made by the CDC and other agencies for social distancing and cleaning procedures.
And with budgets unlikely to change, or, in the case of some districts, actually shrinking, these districts have had to consider other options. Distance learning is one of those options. Finally, there is also a hybrid model that includes some in-class time, as well as online or distance learning.
There is no doubt that distance learning can keep kids safely distanced from one another. However, distance learning presents a host of other problems for both students and parents. Research suggests that kids who struggle tend to do worse with distance learning. That leaves these kids falling further behind. Other students struggle with engagement via distance learning. This is particularly true of highly social children.
Teachers may have more difficulty identifying learning issues in online classrooms as a child’s struggles may be less evident. Despite the best efforts of teachers, it is also more of a challenge for kids to get the help they need via distance learning, particularly one on one support. And for parents who are either working from home or returning to work, this is a problem. They don’t have the time, or in many cases, the resources, to help their children.
One solution is to find a program that can offer your child additional help with their distance learning. Private tutors are available, but they are often an expensive option.
Some organizations, like Children’s Learning Adventure (CLA), are offering parents the option of enrolling their children in before and after school programs which provide distance learning support. Look for programs, like CLA’s, that employ qualified teachers and have stringent health measures in place. It’s also a good idea to look for programs that are working closely with your local school district.
Distance learning is challenging, but it can work academically if you have the right supports. However, it offers minimal options for social opportunities which are an essential part of every child’s school day. These after and before school programs provide the added benefit of providing your child with much needed social interaction.
While the current uncertainty around the return to school is unlikely to abate any time soon, there are things you can do to help create a sense of normalcy and control for both you and your child.