But experience for some of us is now indicating that back to school essentials haven't been feeling quite as essential as they used to.
It's late August (or early September) and its feeling like the summer break was merely more than an extended long weekend. Needless to say, it's time to get the kids prepped for back to school. But let's face it, back to school isn't quite the same as it used to be, is it? Once upon a time, the school year was quite predictable. A few stacks of paper, pencils, markers, binders, duo-tangs, erasers, sharpeners and a Jansport bag would do the trick. But experience for some of us is now indicating that back to school essentials haven't been feeling quite as essential as they used to. I mean, as this pandemic forced us into our homes, we quickly realized that many of the abovementioned resources proved to be futile or irrelevant in the face of a somewhat transient learning environment. What was needed were tools and strategies to help navigate online learning. In this post we will identify some essential back to school resources that we feel are often overlooked or neglected, but are sure to bolster your child's learning experience for the school year.
Get a Chromebook or Laptop
We cannot stress the importance of this first resource. Computer literacy is developing into an essential skill. Devices may not be a "requirement" in your child's classroom, but we encourage you to adopt a mindset in which it is. We understand that devices also come with a price. This is why we do not suggest purchasing a brand new device, but rather attempt to secure a refurbished device from Best Buy or your local computer shop. Furthermore, schools are making greater efforts to provide access to technology for students. As such, you may want to consider reaching out to your child's school to see what their policies are and if it would be possible to have a device temporarily assigned to your child for the school year.
Setup and Organize Email Accounts
Even if your child is in kindergarten, there's a strong possibility that they have an email account with their school. This email typically follows them throughout their entire educational journey in their school or school board. You should become familiar with it. In the age of smart phones, you may even be able add your child's email account to your device. Additionally, you should establish or designate an email that you (the caregiver) will use to correspond with your child's school. Many online classrooms also have the option to add the parent to the child's account. You should seek to do this. This will allow you to keep tabs of your child's progress while also being accessible for key communication from their teacher.
Setup a study space or time
A dedicated space for learning is quite beneficial. Now in a time when everyone is working or studying from home this may not be feasible. However, it is still something that we suggest you strive for, even if it becomes a shared space. If you cannot set up a designated space, then consider establishing a study time. This is a time for everyone in the house to work on any academic and/or work responsibilities that they may have. Distractions are mitigated because everyone is focused on completing essential tasks. This is most effective when EVERYBODY is onboard.
Remember to Decompress and Practice Mindfulness
Sometimes we feel compelled to fill every waking moment of our days with "productive tasks". We also do this with our young scholars. We should also ensure there are opportunities to decompress and practice mindfulness. Schooling, especially when online, can at times require kids to be plugged in for extended periods of time. They will also need moments to decompress. This means allowing for time or tasks that are void of strenuous expectations, provide entertainment, and/or release stress and anxiety. In other instances this may mean intentionally going through mindfulness exercises.
This is not an exhaustive list. And of course, the tangible materials identified at the beginning of this article are still necessary. These are just a few ideas and resources that we feel would help out families as we navigate into another unpredictable school year. What does your back to school prep includes or entail?