As children settle into the new school year, whether virtually or in-person, many students are facing anxiety and apprehension, according to Ali Kaufman, founder of Space of Mind, a modern schoolhouse with locations in Delray Beach and Boca Raton. For many students, particularly those in younger grades, learning virtually is simply not effective.
“Sitting in front of a screen all day, without personal interaction, experiential learning, or socializing with other students, kids simply are not able to learn effectively. They are coming off of the weirdest six months of their lives, they are out of their routine, they are lonely and they are having a hard time focusing,” said Kaufman. “As parents, we want our kids to strive to be their best, but right now, kids need to feel safe and in some control. Every day we see children breaking down in tears. There are steps parents can take to help their kids.”
Ms. Kaufman offers these tips for parents:
1. Check in to see how kids are feeling. They’ve come off of the weirdest six months of their lives, they are out of their routine, and they are picking up on stress from their parents. Check in before each class to see how they are doing.
2. Don’t second-guess your kids. For kids who have returned to in-person classrooms, leave monitoring safety procedures to the school. When kids come home, they do not need to be grilled about social-distancing and mask-wearing. This will add to their anxiety.
3. Form a pod. Partner with other families to form a pod, or find a pod near you, to give your kids socialization and opportunity for experiential learning.
4. Let kids help create their space. Well-meaning parents are transforming areas of their home into virtual learning spaces, but they have taken the creativity and autonomy away from the student. Let the students have a say in their space.
5. Move throughout the day. Let kids move about the house and work in different rooms–say, from the kitchen to the living room–so they do not lose focus and become bored.
6. Don’t worry about grades. Right now, learning and enjoying the process of learning is more important than grades.
7. Be easy on yourself! Parents are juggling work, while overseeing their kids’ schoolwork, and many have their own worries about the economy. Kids pick up on their parents’ stress, so go easy on yourself.
8. Go easy on the teachers. They, too, are doing their best, managing two dozen kids via a screen, and for those in person, worried about their own health. Have patience with them.
Ali Kaufman is the founder of Space of Mind, headquartered in Delray Beach, Florida, which pioneered Social HomeschoolingTM over the last 10 years. She has recently launched a national rollout of its hybrid school program to include virtual, live-taught learning, as well as licensed co-ops and franchised locations for full and part-time school, community, and enrichment activities.