However you’re doing it – tips for back to school

As our summer comes to an end, our thoughts return to back to school. With the COVID-19 pandemic still consuming our lives, the Minneapolis School district has decided to continue its plan they implemented in the spring for online learning, or social distance learning. Expectations for assignments and requirements for classes will be the same as they were last school year.

Here are some safety tips to ensure peace of mind while your child’s education continues online.

  • Ask about your school’s policies for safety and e-learning. Some schools might be better prepared, however some might still be figuring it out as they go, so parents have a role to be alert to the technologies/tactics being introduced.
  • If your child is using Zoom or other video chat services, check in with them regularly so you are aware of what is happening. Older kids may need more space and not appreciate hovering, so be thoughtful with your presence, but still be engaged.
  • Discourage online interactions from children’s bedrooms.
  • Be aware of live video exchanges between teachers and children.
  • Keep distractions at a minimum by not introducing pets, costumes, toys, siblings, etc. during the classroom time, unless invited by a teacher.
  • In all settings, consistently remind kids that their image and audio can be appropriated by others, so they need to act appropriately at all times.
  • If your child is using your device, be mindful of parental controls to keep them away from distractions, interfering with your work, or inappropriate content.
  • When using Zoom make sure Zoom classes are “private” and that teachers are using a password, portal or waiting room feature.
  • Consider providing feedback to your teacher or administrator if the time frame/length of the on-line classes or the style of instruction seems ineffective or causes stress for your child.
  • Continue to have conversations with your children about online safety using a variety of scenarios and talking them through simple, age-appropriate safety plans.

It is important to remember that you are not the teacher, it is not your job to teach your child. Your job is to provide a safe classroom. We should also remember our priority as parents during this unprecedented time goes beyond academics. We are called to provide a safe home environment, sheltering our children from the stress of quarantine and social distancing. This is an opportunity for us to engage with our kids and interact as a family unit. In addition, a lot of our daily life activities can be instructional; we can teach useful life skills by having kids help with chores, cooking and laundry, along with reading together, enjoying family movie night and playing outside in the yard.