Becoming a better parent: Back to School 2020

Our Westview team member, Terry Owens, continues our series, Becoming a Better Parent. In this article, Terry shares important ideas about going back to school this year.

It’s that time of year when families face “back to school” challenges. Those challenges are even more intense this year because of Covid-19. School administrations are developing plans to address the health and safety of our children and school staff this year. Some are keeping face-to-face instruction, but others are developing a blended learning plan which combines personal and virtual classes for some children. Some children will only have virtual classes. Any of these options are going to be challenging for parents and their children. Here are a few ideas to help normalize your world during abnormal times.

Our first suggestion is to do the normal school shopping. Take your child shopping for school clothes, school supplies, and a new backpack, even if they will be going to school in a virtual classroom. Make it a fun trip; go to lunch or get ice cream. You can make this a fun even if you choose to shop online. Because children love to get mail, make sure that all their orders are addressed to them. Also plan a special lunch for the first day of classes, maybe ordering their favorite food from their favorite place to eat. This can be a time of connection and relationship building.

Get organized. Most parents already have routines, such as morning and bedtime routines. Even if your child may be going to class virtually, their schedule should reflect a normal school year. Getting up, getting dressed for school, and eating a healthy breakfast are vital for the emotional and mental health of your child. During the school day, schedule routine breaks every two hours for physical activities like going for a nature walk, playing outside, swinging, or playing ball. Physical activities promote a more balanced brain chemistry that will enable your child to learn and organize information more effectively. Along with physical activities, make sure to provide healthy snacks and water. Dehydration will affect your child’s ability to learn. By the time a child feels thirsty, they have already lost 15% of their ability to learn.

Take time for yourself. Be sure to schedule alone time for your own mental health. You are going to feel the stress of the day as much as your child. You cannot be there for your child if you are not taking care of your emotional and mental health. Designate a quiet place you can go and collect yourself. Meditate, read, enjoy aromatherapy, or go for a nature walk. Find something that works for you and empowers you to find emotional balance. Eat healthily and share a healthy snack with your child at snack time. Don’t forget to get plenty of sleep. You should get at least seven hours of sleep to be prepared for the next day. Remember, it’s okay if you have a bad day but be sure to communicate to your child that you are struggling. Kids learn by example and will in turn communicate to you when they are struggling.

Inevitably, we as parents will make mistakes. We will speak or react in a way that is not our true nature. Deal with your own humanity with patience and grace. We are all human and imperfect, so remember to own those mistakes and apologize. You can use those moments as teaching moments with your children.

May God bless your family as you work together to make this a year of learning and growth. Westview Family Services remains available to help you or your family if we can. Contact us if we can assist in any way. (