Over these last few weeks, we watched as our children headed off to school for the start of the school year. We took pictures of them dressed up carrying backpacks and sporting first day name tags. We stuffed their school bags full of colorful supplies. We made sure they had full water bottles and healthy snacks.
Some of us have kids who are returning to well-known classrooms and teachers, some of us walked our Kindergarteners into their brand-new schools, and some of us even walked ourselves back onto our college campuses. The desire to educate ourselves and our children is something we all have in common. But, it isn't the only thing. What we also have in common is our complete inability to foresee what tomorrow holds. What none of us know — not the parents, teachers, students, administration or even the school mascot — is how long those school doors will remain open.
Last year COVID-19 made us reimagine what the United States education system looked like, with very little warning. The confusion that ensued left some students falling behind as quarantine hiatuses were followed by online learning, and then landed at hybrid-learning. Measures were put in place to keep students' GPAs from suffering the consequences of the upheaval. Some school districts ruled that GPAs could not drop from the point that children were sent home to learn virtually: good grades would be rewarded, but poor grades would not cause a lasting effect on students' futures.
This may have been fair, after all, every home life is different, and every student is different. A diligent teenager left alone at home all day to complete school assignments while their parents' remained at work might still have boosted their grades. However, a student that was happy accepting whatever grades they held when their on-campus learning ended? I don't see that student waking themselves up to start their day of study independently.
We cannot control what happens this school year, any more than we have been able to so far throughout this pandemic. As COVID-19 cases continue to rise, and the Delta Variant continues to hospitalize children in greater numbers than we have ever seen, the chance that we may find ourselves with students heading back home and relying on online options is high. Even if that does not ultimately happen, they are already facing numerous two week quarantines as outbreaks continue to develop in their classrooms. All in all, our kids are up against many distractions that could seriously impact their learning.
If you are an avid reader of our Book Bros Blog (and why wouldn't you be, these things are incredibly well-written, if I do say so myself) then you can predict what comes next.
It's bullet point time.
Here are Book Bros top three ways to keep this school year running smoothly
and prepare for the obstacles that will undoubtedly arise.
1) Keep Up With Their Work
If you are over the age of 25 or so, and haven't had the horror ( I mean, pleasure) of sitting down with a school age learner to help them with their math homework — do I have news for you!
They changed it.
Yup. Kids don't learn math the way we did in school. They also don't learn cursive. History books are (depending on location, and not quickly enough) being updated to display more accurate depictions of American history. English teachers assign different books as a part of their curriculum (you can throw out your old essays on The Great Gatsby now). And, depending on the age of your student, they may even be learning things in school that you never did. I have a high school diploma and two college degrees... and never took a day of physics in my life (I count my ability to dodge physics for 19 years of schooling as one of my greatest academic accomplishments).
So what happens when your child needs help and their tutoring session isn't scheduled until later on in the week? We try to always be available, and encourage our Book Bros kids to post questions on our social media if they need a quick explanation, but learning, just like raising a child, takes a village.
Staying aware of what your child is learning in school, even if it means making the time to learn something new or follow along yourself, empowers you to sit down with a frustrated student, and be able to offer more help than a shoulder pat and a pep talk.
2) Download Online Learning Games
Older students might be somewhat accustomed to online learning. Even in the pre-COVID days, they most likely had homework that needed to be completed or submitted online.
That is not always the same for younger learners. I am terrified of what learning from home would look like for my rowdy and wild Kindergartner. I work, and we live in a single parent home. I will not be able to homeschool him, and as he can barely concentrate when sitting in a classroom full of other children all learning along with him, how will he react to a computer screen replacing his teachers?
The best way to prepare children for the possibility of this type of learning, is to introduce the concept now, before they are thrown in the deep end. By introducing online learning games and websites, young students will start to see their home computer not as just a hub for games and endless Youtube videos, but also as a tool. Many educational websites are designed like the games they may already be playing on their tablets. By introducing these tools now, you can shorten the distance of the leap from "my computer shows me funny videos" to "my computer teaches me to read."
3) Provide Them With a Virtual Tutor
This may feel like a shameless plug, but that doesn't make this bullet point any less true. The goal is consistency. By providing your kids with stable, routine, tutoring sessions now, they will be more prepared to face the challenges and disruptions that these strange years continue to throw our way.
Two week quarantine because of a COVID outbreak? Not a concern. Their tutor is there with them to ensure that they do not fall behind. A shift to online learning? Their tutor is already there to pick up the slack created by no longer learning topics in a face-to-face environment. Your student's grade in their least favorite subject gets frozen at a C, and they want to give up on the whole topic? Their tutor is there to keep them on task, keep them inspired, and remind them what opportunities will present themselves, and doors will open for them, if they keep pushing — despite so much adversity.
Sure you can wait until they are already struggling. You can wait until you notice their disrupted learning environment taking a toll on them mentally and emotionally. Or, you can be proactive in your attack. No one in the history of time has ever blamed regular tutoring sessions for lowering their grades or decreasing their subject matter understanding.
4) Bonus Bullet Point
P.S. Tutors aren't just for kids.
Whether you need help understanding college-level material, help learning subjects alongside your high schooler (*cough* Down with Calculus! *cough*), or whether you want to take this time (when the job landscape is becoming more brutal by the second) to learn a new skill and pad your resume — tutoring options are available for you as well.
We are expanding our course offerings at the speed of light, and we don't plan on stopping anytime soon. If you have an idea for a skill you want to learn, reach out to us on social media @ Facebook.com/BookBrosCo IG @book_bros_co or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Let us know of your need, and we will do our best to fill it.