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School as adventure: a different approach

No matter how you look at it, school this fall will just be different than what everybody is used to. Teachers ended the school year without getting to hug their students, and parents ended the year under a cloud of frustration from eLearning. As a teacher and a mom, here is what I know about school for the upcoming year.

There will be learning, just not in the format we have traditionally known. Some families will choose a virtual option for the year. Some parents I have spoken with are seriously considering homeschooling, which has its own rewards and challenges. And it looks like in-person classes may be a possibility, but be prepared that if there is a spike in COVID cases, students could be right back where they were in spring.

The best-case scenarios leave a lot to be desired, but the success of our students could depend largely on how you present it at home. Make it a pirate “adventure” where there will be unexpected and frustrating obstacles that they must overcome. Help them frame their thinking to be “heroes” where they are fighting off the evil virus with handwashing and masks. Allow them to be “explorers” in finding new ways to avoid physical contact at school. Please make sure that you aren’t giving them your negative concerns, because that translates to fear in young students and that will make their transition that much harder.

Teachers are madly scrambling to remake every lesson they have for both online and in-classroom learning. And the online materials they are making are not what they did last spring for crisis learning. One teacher I know is making every lesson paperless to better track who needs help and recording extra tips for parents so students don’t struggle.

As a parent, I am making school purchases for next year with safety in mind. We are buying extra masks so our son does not wear the same one each day. We are adding in extensions so his poor ears don’t get raw, and we are trying to locate wipes and hand sanitizer for his backpack and extras to send into the classroom. And we are talking about safe methods of playing on the playground.

It won’t be like we knew it. And the new normal of physical distancing may be around a lot longer than we would like, but it is doable with the outlook that we are all in it together. We can have a successful school year, even with the challenges, if we remember that learning happens everywhere, even in the face of adversity.