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Five steps parents can take to better prepare students for the upcoming school year

With questions continuously circling around the 2020-2021 school year, for many parents, anxiety is mounting. Adding to the stress is the opinion that by some accounts, the previous school year ended on rather abrupt and rocky terms. It leaves to question, where do we go from here? How can we best prepare our students for an upcoming school year characterized by so much uncertainty?

Nailing down a definitive answer to these questions is daunting if not impossible. Perhaps the best approach is to seek advice and resources within the education community. We understand the struggles. As educators, but also as parents, we empathize and share a common bond: a relentless desire to provide the very best for our children – in spite of these unprecedented times. To this avail, we offer the following suggestions for helping students prepare for the upcoming school year:

1. Transitioning into the fall schedule

Wakey Wakey – Eggs and Bakey! Have bedtime rituals taken a backseat along with morning routines? Raise your hand if your kids have been going to bed much later and rising MUCH later, too! Chances are, you are not alone! Now is a great time to start easing back into a “school” schedule – where children are in bed by a certain time and wake up before noon. It will be easier on everyone if you aren’t dragging sleepy heads out of bed in a few weeks.

2. Reading

We have said it countless times, but we do not mind saying it again: if you do not have your child doing anything else, make sure reading is part of their every-day activities. Whether you are reading to your child, with your child, insisting they read independently each day, or all of the above, the benefits of reading extend to nearly every subject. If possible, reach out to your child’s school, visit the district website, or explore the library page and determine if a summer reading list is available or if a particular book was assigned. If you do not have any luck with this route, nearly all libraries have various types of summer reading lists. From there, you might consider purchasing books from local retailers or visiting the library (if they are open in your area and if you feel comfortable branching out). Readers can also enjoy an endless list of digital book titles from epic!, and many learners are already familiar with the resource because it is used in many schools. In fact, new users can enjoy one month of free titles when they access the digital library from this platform.

3. Unit Studies

Summer is a great time to explore topics not covered in school or to take deeper dives into subject areas students may only touch on during the regular school year. Perhaps your student wants to learn more about STEM subjects and opportunities. Now is a great time to scour the Internet for ideas. Have you always wanted a more expansive focus on Black history? The Internet is beaming with books, videos, and even worksheets about famous and little-known Black leaders. Kids Konnect, for example, has entire libraries filled with subject-based resources including famous inventors, core subjects, seasonal studies, and more. Yet another unit-study resource is WOKE Homeschooling which provides a thorough examination of U.S. history from the pre-colonial era to present day. Even if you would rather keep it lighter and more creative, DIY crafting is another way to learn while tapping into that artistic side. YouTube is your source for almost anything—especially DIY ideas. Regardless of what you choose, the summer offers endless opportunities to create and explore.

4. Technology

Managing screen time is important, but technology does have its place and benefits – especially as we prepare students for the upcoming school year. Programs such as IXL, Prodigy, ABC Mouse, and SpellCity provide fun and engaging activities while also filling gaps and enriching the students. Parents can also visit Khan Academy for complete daily schedule suggestions and free courses in many core areas.

5. Working ahead

Parents can use any of the aforementioned avenues to help their child work ahead. By researching a school district’s curriculum for any given grade (Google is your friend!), parents can gain insight into the subjects and skills their children will learn in the coming year. Armed with that information, parents are far more equipped and empowered to seek out and build learning plans that are more tailored for the child’s needs. A visit to a local bookstore, a specialty learning store, or a retailer like Mardel will provide many ideas and consumable resources – like workbooks, flash cards, lesson plans, etc. – that match the child’s needs.

Make no mistakes, these are stressful times. First and foremost, parents must trust in their abilities to set up their children for success. From there, reaching out and seizing on the resources and opportunities available will help place children on a positive path. We hope your stop at this post is further setting you on your way. You’ve got this!

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