Wrapping and Ramping Up

Finishing the First Semester Strong and Preparing for a Solid Return Back-to-School

Look how far we’ve come. This time last year, few of us knew anything about remote, hybrid, distance, or virtual learning, homeschooling, telecommuting, or social distancing. It’s been a huge learning curve all around. Let’s give ourselves an “A” for effort, take a big breath, and finish out this year strong. Winter break can be a great time to relax and regroup by investing in a little family time.

Take a Family Trip to the Library

Don’t let time away from school be time away from learning. Look for library story times. If you are traveling, check out a family-friendly audiobook for the car. Expand kids’ reading skills by challenging them to read books on new topics. Encourage immerging readers to practice reading out loud to you or even a pet. Or read a book together and hold a family book club meeting.

Get Out in Nature

We may not have ski slopes beckoning with fresh powder, but winter is a great time to take family hikes and explore the wonders of nature together. Pack snacks, chronicle your explorations, and remember, a family hike isn’t about the destination but enjoying the journey together.

Break Out the Board Games

Family game night is about connecting. Board games also teach kids to problem solve, strategize, and think critically. They help them bone up on spelling and language, engineering, or other skill sets. And if your kids are lucky enough to have grandparents nearby, game night is a great way to bring generations together.

Explore the Arts

The holidays are the perfect time to cultivate your child’s interest in music, dance, drama, and visual art. Check your community for a performance of The Nutcracker or a little theatre holiday production. Plan some age-appropriate craft projects such as ornament making. And by all means, don’t forget to do some caroling.

Starting Back to School Strong

Has there ever been a year like 2020 where time seems to fly and stand still simultaneously? Yet before we know it, we’ll be packing the kids off to school or settling them back into a routine of home learning. Here are some strategies for starting back strong.

Set Up a Back-to-School Routine

More than anything, kids crave structure and routine. Sit down together and write out a list of things that need to happen each morning, like eating breakfast, feeding the dog, packing lunches, and dressing. Break chores down by what you can do for them and what they’re ready to do for themselves, then post the list where everyone can see it.

Establish Good Sleep Habits

The National Sleep Foundation recommends establishing consistent bed and wake times starting a week or two before the first day of school. Young bodies need that time to get into a good sleep rhythm.

Talk about Returning to School

Especially if your child deals with stress or anxiety around schooling, talk to them about their thoughts on returning to their learning routine. Depending on their age, you might construct a story together about going to school and what that will look like. And more than anything, let your child know they can talk with you about anything they’re feeling.

Guard your Words

Our children take their cues from us. If we’re stressed, they’re stressed. If we’re discouraged, they’re discouraged. Show an interest in their schoolwork and facilitate positive attitudes about school with the words you choose. Acknowledge that this year is challenging but let them know you’ll get through it together.

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