There’s no question that “Back to School” this year looks very different from what anyone is used to. Many districts in the area are starting the year virtually. Our district gave parents the choice to start the year virtually or in person. After many days of discussion, lost sleep, and accepting that there didn’t really feel like a completely right answer, we decided to start our kids virtual.
I’ll admit I’m mourning a lot of what will be missed. Typical back-to-school shopping, traditional first day of school pictures, and meet the teacher, and it feels a bit like how we felt in the spring all over again when we missed all the end-of-school activities. After giving myself some time to feel sad, and let my kids feel all the emotions they had, I’m working on doing my best to still make “Back to School” a fun and exciting time.
My Tips for Virtual Learning
Designate a “School Space”
When schools closed in the spring, the kids did their school work at the dining room table. While it worked for the sudden change, I think having their own space will help them feel like they are “in school” and separate school time from home time. We designated a wall in our upstairs bonus room to be our school area.
I scoured the Internet for some inexpensive desks, and it seems everyone else had the same idea because all the desks and tables at IKEA are currently sold out. Fortunately, Amazon came to my rescue. Of course, I’m going to add some decorative touches because that’s what I do. I hope it will be a space that my kids enjoy and makes their virtual learning experience just a little more fun.
I am planning to still take my kids back to school shopping because…they are still going back to school! The past couple of years we have gotten a babysitter or family to watch the younger kids and we take our school-aged kids out for shopping and lunch. The basics plus some fun new art supplies will still make it extra fun. We also use the lunch time to talk with the kids about topics that we feel are important for them to remember and be reminded of for the upcoming year.
For the past few years we have had a Back to School Dinner the Sunday before school starts. We make some of the kids’ favorite food and eat it on lunch trays that I found in the Target Dollar Spot. We encourage each other and talk up the school year so that the kids are ready and excited for school. Last year, we all wrote notes to each other on Post-It notes and put them on our doors. Anything to help the kids feel confident and more proud to be themselves!
Bonus Tips for Parents
I’ll admit I have mourned my continued loss of “me time” to explore my own interests, take care of things at home, work on various projects, etc. That has been one of the hardest things for me in all of this: the loss of my own time. Here are a few ways I am going to try to handle that:
- Wake up early before my kids. I was really good at this at the beginning of the year as one of my New Year’s resolutions, but I have definitely gotten out of the habit this summer. I know that quiet time is invaluable to start my day off right!
- Quiet time in the afternoon. I’m not exactly sure what the school schedule will look like for virtual school, but I plan on continuing our afternoon quiet time where everyone plays independently for an hour or so. It gives everyone a chance to rest and recharge.
- Make lunches the night before. Meal times can get a bit crazy over here. And with school in session, yet being home together, I think that making lunches the night before, just like I would if my kids were going to school, will help that part of our day go much more smoothly.
While the beginning of this school year will look different, there are still things we can do to make it exciting and memorable for our kiddos. What are you doing to make back to school memorable?