School in 2020: Advice from an Elementary School Teacher
Tell us a little about you: I am starting my 17th year as an elementary school teacher. I have taught first, second, and currently teach third grade. I am certified K-8, ESL, and GT.
What are the best ways to help my child get ready for school? Try to be as positive as you can when you're talking with (or around) your student about the upcoming school year. Introduce your student to wearing a mask and being around those who are wearing masks, as teachers will likely be required to wear them. Be supportive and listen to your child's questions and concerns about going back to school.
Online? Make sure you have an active library card. Take some time to check out and get acquainted with your local library so that your child will have access to actual books.
What tips do you have for the optimal home learning environment? Help your child create a designated workspace. Collect paper, notebooks, pencils, crayons, markers, etc. so that all school materials are located in the same place. Create a routine that works for your family and stick to it.
My child struggles with being online. What do you suggest? This is tricky to answer because online education is going to look different depending on which district you are in. However, if possible, I suggest breaking the online time into chunks and taking breaks as needed. Set a timer for 10 minutes (adjust as needed, based on age) of online time and then take a break to do something off screen.
What if my child is having a hard time focusing on school work (whether online or with homework)? Do you have any simple tips to start with? Break the work into chunks. Set small goals with your child about what he or she can accomplish in a given amount of time. Some examples include: "I will read 10 pages of my book" or "I will solve 5 math problems". Celebrate the victories and adjust goals as needed.
I am not a school professional. What is the best way to support my child? Your child will feed off of your energy, so it's important to try and remain positive in his or her presence. Stick to the routine you set and be mindful of any online teacher support offerings. If your remote teacher is offering online time to ask questions or get help, use it! That time will help your student build a relationship with the teacher and that connection is important.
My child gets accommodations and/or modifications at school. I’m worried they will get behind or lost without these services. What do I do? Accommodations/modifications are legally binding and each school should be working to figure out a way for students to receive these services remotely. These services will most likely look different in the online world than in the classroom, but they must be offered. This might also mean that you have to be a little creative with your own schedule. If NO services are offered to you during this time of being online, I'd encourage you to contact a campus administrator to ask some questions.
How do I talk to my kids about school once it is open for in-person classes? Have an open and honest conversation with your child about the changes in how school will work (look for information about this from your school district). Help him or her feel prepared by answering any questions that come up. Reinforce the ideas of frequent hand washing, not touching your face, and sneezing into your elbow.
How can parents/caregivers support school professionals during this time? Please understand that so many of the decisions being made right now are not up to us. When you are feeling concerned and frustrated, try not to express that on social media.
What else would you like us to know? Please know that every single school staff member wants what is best (and safest) for your kids. We miss them and we miss teaching them.
- Katie Huff | 3rd Grade Teacher