School This Fall: A Common Sense Approach (+ Resources)

Updated: Jul 12, 2020


We are all waiting patiently (some less patiently) for school guidelines this fall. Truth is, it doesn’t really matter.


Let’s face it, school will not go back to what it used to be for a while, if ever. We have to be prepared for that. By the same token, work will not go back to what it used to be for a while. We also have to prepare for that.


This is why I am suggesting that instead of waiting for guidelines and then panicking, let’s panic now and get it out of our system so we can start planning.





Common sense dictates that when there are too many uncertainties, you are better off having more than one solution. Just in case.

So what are the different situations?

  1. We don’t know if our kids are going back to school this fall. And if they are, we don’t know what the schedule is going to be.

  2. We don’t know when, how often, or even “if” we are going to return to work anytime soon.

Therefore we can not plan with any certainty:

  • Our child or children’s schedule

  • Our work schedule

  • Any plans with trusted adults who can take care of our children like nannies, baby sitters, au pair (that’s a whole other problem), family...etc.

To add to this mess, even once everyone is back to their busy place (work or school), we don’t know if/how long it will last before the next shut down. That’s all assuming that everyone stays healthy and we don’t need to worry about this part of the problem.

Oh, and there is one more thing. Realistically speaking, we can not rely on schools to educate our children the way they would have if everything was normal, at least until teachers and schools have mastered the new system. It will take time. This is not to blame teachers or schools, I have no doubt that they are trying their best, but let’s keep things real so we can plan effectively. Luckily, learning may actually be the only problem in this situation that has clearly defined solutions. (Check resources at the end of this post. )

Based on the mentioned uncertainties, we can all take a good minute to panic and get it all out of our system. When you are done, and you are ready to find some solutions, continue reading.



Welcome back!


We are all in a tricky situation, but it is not impossible. Let’s keep an open mind here and really see that there are only four possible situations that we need to solve for.


Situation 1:

If we work from home and our children are also at home.

Problem: Legally, we are fine. Everything else might fall apart.

Solution:

  • Start teaching your child to work and play independently

  • Find a reliable curriculum

  • If you need to, find a trusted adult to support you


Situation 2:

If we work from home and our children are at school.

Problem: There is no problem. Yeyy!

Solution: You might want to find a trusted adult to cover for you in case your day runs longer than the school day.


Situation 3:

If we need to physically be at the office and our children are at school.

Problem: There is no problem. Yeyy!

Solution: You might want to find a trusted adult to cover for you in case your day runs longer than the school day.


Situation 4:

If we need to physically be at the office and our children are at home.

Problem: This is our nightmare situation, isn't it.

Solution:

  • Start teaching your child to work and play independently

  • Find a reliable curriculum

  • Find a trusted adult to watch the kids

Note about trusted adult support: It is risky for everyone’s health, but some of us will be willing to take that risk simply because alternatives are much riskier. (See suggestion at the end of this post)


That's it! As long as we are all healthy, these are our only options. Seems like they all have solutions. Now let’s answer some questions.


What does learning and playing independently mean?

If this is your first time hearing about learning and playing independently, then you are in for a treat!

Learning and playing independently means that your child(ren) take their time to explore, learn, and play freely without any external interruptions. Learning happens at a very deep level during this time and it is important that the child is left alone until they are done.

Independent learning is taught, but every child has an innate urge to practice it. There are ways to teach it.

Interested? Avital from The Parenting Junkie does a stellar job at explaining how it works.


Where can we get a trusted curriculum?

  1. All school curricula are available online. If you feel like taking on this challenge by yourself, or if you want to make sure your child is on track, then you can check your school or district’s website for this information.

  2. Fact: teachers are awesome! Many teachers make their curricula available online. From entire units broken down to day by day activities to worksheets and videos. You name it, it is available. Personally, I LOVE Teachers Pay Teachers. I find that it is a fair way to acknowledge that you appreciate the work that teachers do. Because they are awesome, their materials are truly at a nominal cost.

  3. Another place to search for curricula is homeschooling websites. Homeschooling is alive and well. Thousands of families depend on it each year. Why not you too? I don't know a lot about homeschooling, but I found this article from The HomeSchool Mom helpful. I have also heard many good things about the Oak Meadow curriculum.

  4. Want a teacher to teach this stuff, they are also available to teach virtually. Check out local groups like your neighborhood Facebook group or Nextdoor for virtual teacher and tutor recommendations.

** If you have a favorite source, please include in a comment so we can all learn together. **

What was that “suggestion” regarding trusted adult support?

Maybe it is time to skip the traditional routes and think more locally. A co-op structure could be very helpful when several friends, family members, or neighbors want to go back to work and have the same worry about leaving the kids at home.

  • If you can coordinate with 5 other families, then each day one of you can stay home with the kids while everyone else is working. If only one parent from each household participates, then it will require each of you to work from home one day each week. If both parents participate, then once every two weeks you will each need to work from home. With five families the risk may be more manageable, especially that the same children are together every day.

  • Can’t work from home? Or insist on paid support? Then you might be open to hosting other children to spend the day together while several parents can work. Would you consider that?

Unfortunately, health is a risk no matter how we slice this situation. It is up to you and your family to make these difficult decisions. However, if you are going to seek out extra support anyways, then the health risk coming from a stranger and the health risk coming from a friend or neighbor may be comparable. I am no health expert, this is Just a thought.

I hope this solution breakdown attempt helped a little bit. Now, school guidelines can arrive when they are ready.


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