5 Tips to Manage the Upcoming School Year

The 2019 – 2020 school year started out normal; however, the ending was unexpected. The start of the 2020 – 2021 school year is going to look different and who knows if we will end the same way as it starts! The last 6 months have negatively impacted Ohio’s parents and children. For months we were quarantined to our homes and parents were faced with working from home and homeschooling their children. No one signed up for this and it was both, frustrating and exhausting. I think I can speak for everyone when I say, “Whew, I am glad summer is here!”

All summer, we have been anxiously waiting to hear what the 2020-2021, school year will look like. On July 2, 2020, the Governor of Ohio, Mike DeWine, recommended the following guidelines to Ohio school districts:

  • Wash and sanitize hands to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus
  • Thoroughly clean and sanitize the school environment to limit the spread of germs and coronavirus on shared surfaces
  • Practice social distancing
  • Implement face coverings

These guidelines were recommended to help keep Ohio’s students, families, teachers, and staff safe. Each school district took these recommendations and created an individualized, return to school plan, that is based off of what the school district felt was best for the safety and health of all. Some districts have opted to go back full-time, while other have chosen hybrid models or remote learning. Some districts have even opted to implement all 3 models. Needless to say, this year might be a little chaotic. Therefore, I wanted to provide you with 5 tips that may help your family stay organized and set you up for a successful school year.

1. Keep your daily routines – As adults, we thrive when we know what our day looks like. Children are the same and they need a consistent schedule. Therefore, it is essential to keep a daily routine. Have your child wake up and go to bed at the same time every day. If the child is learning remotely, make sure they still get dressed, eat breakfast and brush their teeth.  This will prepare the body and mind for the “school” day.  If your child is learning through a hybrid model, this will be important on the days they engage in remote learning.

2. Make a schedule – Make a daily schedule for remote learning. I recommend setting a designated time to complete school work. Otherwise, your child may put off their work and before you know it, it’s time for bed. Set specific times to complete ELA, Math, Science, Social Studies, and electives.  This will support time management and attention skills.

3. Use your calendar and reminders – Remote learning is hard. Your child may participate in weekly classroom Zoom sessions.  They may also have Zoom appointments for occupational, physical or speech therapies, etc. All of these can add up! Depending on your child’s education plan, you could be looking at more than 6 Zoom sessions per week! This can definitely be overwhelming.  It may be beneficial to write down these appointments and assignment due dates where everyone can see them. Use the calendar and reminders on your phone for an additional reminder. Make sure to look at the calendar first thing in the morning so that you and your child know what to expect for the day. Remember to update your calendar daily!

4. Design a work space –The space should be free of distractions, such as television or toys.I do not recommend setting the space up in the child’s bedroom because before you know it, they will be napping on their bed or playing with their toys. After you locate a good spot for the workspace, set it up with school supplies. Have a bin or drawer full of pencils, pens, paper, books, art supplies, notecards, etc. If you have the area stocked, this will reduce the amount of time you and your family will have to search for school supplies during the day.

5. Movement – Don’t forget to schedule in movement breaks! If your child is in elementary school, they may need a movement break every 20 -30 minutes! Don’t expect them to be able to focus for 60 minutes, like your high school student. Allowing 5-15 minutes pf physical activity will help the child get their wiggles out and give their brain a break. After the break, they will be energized and ready to focus on the next assignment. A sample movement break can include exercising (push-ups, squats, and jumping jacks), online dance / music videos, or even a short walk with the dog. For some kids a glass of water or a bathroom break is enough of a movement break.

Lastly, after you implement all of this, remember to breathe.

We are all in this together! Just take this school year one day at a time!

-Brittany Stout, MOT, OTR/L