An unprecedented number of households will not be sending their kids off to school this fall. Millions of children are beginning the school year at home as dining rooms have been transformed into virtual classrooms. This monumental change has created uncertainty for educators, parents, students, and the general public who are grappling with how to best protect and educate our children.
Many people fear that their children will not receive adequate education online. Teachers are frantically working to create online curriculums that support students as they adjust. There are monumental challenges to reinvent education—especially for young children —in an online environment.
Divorced and separated parents have unique concerns about how to stabilize their children’s education from two separate households. These children require special support during this ever-changing time. Parents are wise to approach this transition day-by-day—at times, even hour-by-hour. Remaining flexible and calm will allow parents to stay focused on their children’s best interests. You can provide your kids with the support they need during this transition
Online education – What’s it all about?
Online education is a new concept for most people. Parents and kids are equally stressed about how online education will affect their lives. It is important for parents to become familiar with available resources to support the changes necessary for success. Below are some resources that may support you through the transition to online education:
- EdHelper.com – Provides free printable worksheets and tips to better equip parents to help their kids learn while at home
- Readbrightly.com – Tips and reading suggestions to keep your child interested in reading, at any age.
- Scholastic’s Learn at Home – Online curriculum for children ages 4-10 to help build their skills while online. Kids can work with parents, siblings, or on their own to complete their virtual learning materials.
SOCIAL MEDIA SUPPORT GROUPS:
- Parent Support For Online Learning (Facebook) – Provides support and advice to parents who may be seeking answers from other parents who are in similar situations.
Parents new to online education are wondering:
- Will schools be providing electronic devices to attend classes?
- Will kids get any one-on-one time with the teacher?
- What platform will be used for kids to attend their classes?
- Will there be set schedules?
- What about PE?
- What if we can’t log on?
- What if kids need help and we don’t have the first clue how to help them?”
Co-parents are additionally asking:
- Who will be responsible for tracking homework?
- How will we both communicate with teachers?
- How will we share important information?
- How will we provide consistency and routine for our kids?”
With the necessary support and resources, all parents, even parents lacking confidence, will be able to successfully support their kids through this transition.
Normalizing Online Learning
Online education can be confusing to children of all ages. Normalizing the shift for your child can help them adjust.
Consider setting up a home “workstation” just for schoolwork and establishing a daily routine. Get your kids excited about the new school year by working together to prepare their devices before classes begin, and by mirroring the usual back-to-school traditions as much as possible. For example, you and your kids can have fun taking a virtual ‘shopping trip’ for school supplies.
Helping kids see online education as normal-enough will help them feel better about the change. Most kids will be excited to know that online education will allow them to interact with their classmates while keeping everyone safe. Maintain the morning routine from years gone by to ensure the kids are fed, dressed, and ready to learn. Communicate that this school year will be different—but potentially just as fun and educational as those they have enjoyed in the past.
Help Kids Cope
Feelings of anxiety are normal during times of change. Going to school online might cause additional anxiety for kids who feel uncertain and even uncomfortable with new online processes—such as video conferencing with their teachers and peers. Here are some approaches that may help you support them:
- Ask your kids questions about how they are feeling, what they think about the new school year, and what kind of support they need.
- Ensure that you are providing your kids with the same information to avoid any confusion. Co-parents, let your kids know that it is okay if they do things differently at their two homes.
- Be flexible and extra forgiving with your child this school year. Show them that you are there to support them during this transition and that you are there to listen to however they may be feeling and whatever may be on their minds.
- Use the resources that your child’s school provides. Many school counselors are setting up virtual meetings with students to ensure that they are coping well. Communicate with your child’s teachers, counselors, and/or school principal to receive extra support or guidance as necessary.
- Ask for help if you aren’t sure how to handle something. No one has all the right answers, and no one was prepared for the challenges you are facing. You can join your school’s PTA to stay in touch with your peers and develop a support community.
Co-parenting During Online Education
Balancing co-parenting schedules with online-learning schedules can be complex when children are sharing time with each parent. When conflict ensues it can negatively affect a co-parenting relationship. Here are some considerations for co-parents:
- Remember that you may not agree on every issue regarding their child’s online learning process—and that’s okay. Through respectful communication, co-parents can work together to help ensure their child is striving and reaching their potential this school year.
- Discuss how you plan on maintaining open communication.
- Give your co-parent the benefit of the doubt. Be patient and respectful of their opinions. You can be of the most benefit to your child when you work collaboratively.
- Consider parenting mediation, online divorce or post-divorce mediation to help resolve any disagreements quickly. Online mediation can quickly resolve most issues.
Here are some helpful resources for co-parenting:
- PARENTING APART: How separated and divorced parents can raise happy and secure kids, Author: Christina McGhee
- Co-Parenting 101: Helping Your Kids Thrive in Two Households after Divorce,
Authors: Deesha Philyaw and Michael D. Thomas
- Truece – Helps co-parents to communicate, collaborate, and stay organized. Generates reports and numerous helpful features to help avoid conflict.
- Google Family Calendar – Co-parents can track their kid’s schedules in one place, helping them avoid any miscommunication.
- Coparently – Color-coded parenting time calendar, Expense Management tool, and Shared Contact Directory.
- Our Family Wizard – Simplified scheduling with trade-request feature, time-stamped read message feature, and online payment options.
- Up to Parents.org – Helpful videos and articles on all aspects of co-parenting with a focus on keeping conflict low for the benefit of kids.
- Divorceandchildren.com – Offers a Free Parenting APART Resource Guide and coaching services.
If you are having difficulty co-parenting, The Aurit Center For Divorce Mediation offers parenting mediation to assist you with finding the middle ground. With the help of a mediator, you will create mutually-beneficial agreements in the best interest of your kids. Mediation can help you both to find new ways to communicate and set you up for successful co-parenting into the future.