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Learning and Life Skills: 11 Ways to Support Students this School Year

Supporting students has taken on a new meaning throughout the pandemic. Although 2021 begins with optimism for a better year overall, the issue of academics being in-person, virtual or a combination of both looms large. Rather than meeting students where they are in a classroom setting, helping them learn where they’re quarantined or otherwise away from a school building presents new challenges with motivation, material resources, and finding an approach that works.

Note: It’s important to recognize that both parents and teachers are doing their best right now. That effort, the best try method, is enough, even when it doesn’t always feel like it. If you need a new approach, try something different. Some of the suggestions below can help.

At Kern County Family Magazine, we recognize the challenges of teaching children this year and the extraordinary response required. Be encouraged and know that your effort is enough. No one has parented in a pandemic before who is alive today to tell us how. You have pressed on and prevailed. Rest assured, you’ve made the best of these unusual circumstances. We join with you in hoping for a better year for our children.

Here are 11 ways to help a student right now:

1. Try a new routine

Work with your child to create a routine that works for all involved. Getting their buy-in is key. Don’t let past issues stand in the way of a fresh start. Knowing what not to do can be just as important as you continue to move forward.

2. Go outdoors

If the usual routine isn’t working, or even if it is, take the lesson outdoors. Research continually shows the benefits of outdoor play and children’s improved cognitive abilities when learning in nature. Soak up the sun with a change of scenery.

3. Trade lessons

If you are your child’s teacher this semester, consider trading lessons with other parents. For example, if you enjoy history, consider teaching it in exchange for French lessons or help with math. Everyone is good at something in school, and it comes back quickly if you loved it in another phase of life. You don’t have to be good at everything to make it work.

4. Connect with others

Whether you’re in a virtual classroom or come together through social distancing, there are ways to find peers. Talk with other parents or caregivers. Let children see and hear each other.

5. Get outside help

Whether your child isn’t finding the right fit in their academic setting or you are overseeing their lessons as the parent turned teacher through strange circumstances, there’s no shame in admitting when something is not working. Many options exist for a child’s education. Talk with teachers and administrators, get a tutor, or look at what else is available. Don’t go it alone.

6. Find study resources

Kern County Library offers a range of services without charge online, including the ability to access materials from home through Hoopla. Visit https://www.kerncountylibrary.org/ for more information. Free WIFI is also available in the parking lot of most local libraries.

7. Drop everything and read

Early childhood experts cite reading as the main predictor of a child’s likelihood of attending college. Take a break with a favorite book. Try “Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing” by Judy Blume for middle elementary readers. Let older readers show you their favorite books and share your own favorites with the youngest family members who cannot yet read.

8. Be mindful of basic needs

Hunger, fatigue, and safety rank on basic needs hierarchies. If your child is struggling during school lessons, try a snack, a break, and assurances that this too shall pass. If you need help with food assistance, your local school district has resources available. Other resources exist in our community as well, including through Boys & Girls Club of Kern County, food pantries, and more. Visit Community Action Partnership of Kern at https://www.capk.org/programs/food-bank/ for more information, including upcoming distribution events.

9. Focus on other issues

Set a timer for 20 minutes and do something else. Put schoolwork aside and take a break or break out something else kids need to learn about. Teaching life skills is also valuable, like how to boil an egg, sew on a button, or use the washing machine. Safety first is the key to age appropriate activities.

10. Host an “old school” day

Stream “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood,” remember the peace Bob Ross brings, and share your own childhood experiences. Love and nostalgia can be unifying.

11. Name it to tame it

Talk through the problems. Write down what’s bothering you. Phone a friend or make a virtual therapy appointment. Your child may also need to speak with others who can help. School counselors, pastors, friends, and family can be a resource at this time. Although we may not be able to reach out in person, people still need one another.

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Tags: Education, Enrichment, Featured Story, Parenting, Tweens & Teens

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