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Elementary School and COVID: Survival Strategies for Parents

No doubt COVID has caused a disruption to education as we know it. Here's how to navigate education for the elementary age season.

For some time now the education system has been one of the foundational pillars of the family routine. We build work schedules, sports schedules, appointments, and vacations around when school starts, stops, and takes its breaks.

So what happens when the school system is totally disrupted? Total disruption to life as we all knew it.

If you have school-age children you are keenly aware of the disruption and chaos I am talking about. Everything we do as parents in building a life for our family is tied to what our schools do. And, since at the moment our schools do not know what to do to educate and keep our kids safe this fall, we in effect are in limbo about what our lives will look like as well.

As a result, most of us feel uneasy, overwhelmed, fearful, and frustrated.

Over the past several weeks I have shared my thoughts and strategies for navigating the educational pathway this fall for various age groups. You can read them HERE. Today's post is the last in this series and will focus on survival strategies for parents with elementary aged students.

Elementary aged students (~5 - ~11) are a tough group to help navigate this kind of disruption, adding to our already overwhelmed emotional states. While students at the upper end may understand what is going on, lower level students may not be able to grasp the details and concepts behind all of the changes coming at them. This can make having age-appropriate conversations difficult. Add in the emotional turmoil: fear of messing our kids up, worry over making ends meet, anxiety over having to make so many decisions with so little information, and we become like power kegs just waiting for our ever shortening fuses to be lit.

We all want a solution to we can put an end to this upside down, topsy-turvy season, and we all want it to be what's best for kids according to our perspectives. Unfortunately there is no way this can happen collectively that will satisfy everyone affected. There are too many variables, and too many opinions all vying for our attention. Yet parents still are being asked to decide what is best for their students and their families in the face of constant change causing all sorts of emotional turmoil. Here's how to quiet the noise and focus on making a plan that works best for your family.

  1. Determine the financial needs of your family dynamic. Most families rely on dual-incomes. For many of us Covid and school/day care closures may have caused the loss of work, causing a strain on our finances and our relationships. What can your family afford that will not add an extra strain financially or relationally?

  2. Identify your family's values. Understanding the values we are trying to teach our children and live by as a family is essential in developing a healthy educational pathway for our students. When we make decisions that go against our values the result is often anger, frustration, and unrest. What do your values say about how to educate your children in this particular season?

  3. Define the temperament and learning styles of your children. Some children thrive in independent or at-home situations, some do not. Some are auditory learners, some are kinesthetic. What education pathway will best suit the needs of your children? Check out this site to help determine your students learning style, and this link to help identify their personality type.

  4. Identify the academic needs of your students. Schools offer a wide range of services for free that many parents need regarding their students academic development. If you choose to stay with your home school, will those services be provided? If you choose to leave for a different option, how will those options address those needs? Which options available to you will give your student the best chance at academic success?

  5. Identify the options available to you. While most of us have relied on the local school to provide our student's education, there are a ton of options available to each of us. In this season of unknowns, you can wait on the school district to reveal their plan. Once they do, you can then determine if that will be the best option for your students. If your school decides in favor of policies that do not fit your family's values, you have other options you can consider: homeschooling, charter schools in your area, private schools, virtual academies and online programs. What options other than your local public school may fit the needs and values of your family in this particular season?

I know this season of unknowns is tough to navigate. The thing to remember is that we ALL, parents, educators, school boards, and superintendents, want to do what's best for our kids. One size will not fit all here. Give yourself the permission to put the needs of your students and your family at the top of the priority list and look for the options available to you from that viewpoint. Once you do, I believe identifying the next best step of your children's educational pathway will become clear.

If you would like help processing the decisions you need to make about schooling in the fall, developing an action plan, or setting personal or career goals, I'd love to help. Schedule a free Discovery Call today to learn how I can help you process all you are experiencing in a healthy way.

Join the Conversation: What fear, worry, or anxiety is disrupting your peace over your student's educational pathway?

If you are new here, I am a retired educator (public, charter, and homeschool), parent of a 20-something and a college freshman, and an Education Coach and Consultant who guides students, parents, and educators in navigating the education and career development journey through retirement.


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