This school year is starting off on a different path than most of us are used to in Hillsborough County. After weeks of back and forth, the district has decided upon the first week beginning with virtual learning and then transitioning to brick and mortar the second week of school, if the parents choose to send their students back in-person. The uncertainty of school and the novel Coronavirus has caused emotional, social and financial strain on many families during this time. As a parent, you may feel anxious and uncertain of how your child will be able to learn in a safe environment this year. For some, the triple duty of parenting, working and at-home teaching can be exhausting to carry on for the 180 days of school. As exhausting as the school year ahead may seem, there are things you can do as a parent to prepare your child to survive and thrive this school year. 

Build Relationships with Teachers 

Whether your child is learning online or in a classroom, building a relationship with your child’s teacher can make a difference in their learning success. Your child’s teacher plays a very important role in the growth and development of your child. Studies link positive parent-teacher relationships to academic achievement, motivation, positive behavioral outcomes, improved attitude, and even social competence. The ability of a child to feel safe and cared for both at home and at school helps promote classroom success at any age. Here are a few tips for fostering a healthy parent-teacher relationship: 

  • Develop a communication plan by providing updated contact information and your preferred contact method. It’s also important to communicate how often you would like to receive updates about your child’s progress and behavior. 
  • If your family is experiencing any changes at home, it’s important to communicate that with your child’s teacher to help them understand changes in your child’s behavior. 
  • Make sure your child’s teacher feels valued. A “Thank you” note or a small gift goes a long way and offers encouragement on the tough days. 

Life gets busy at times and you may not be able to communicate frequently with your child’s teacher. Acting on even one of the above tips can help your child succeed this school year. 

Pay attention to your child’s mental health needs

Based on research from the National Research Council and Institute of Medicine, it is estimated that 13 –20 percent of children living in the United States (up to 1 out of 5 children) experience a mental disorder in a given year between the ages of 3 and 17 years old. Good mental health allows children to think clearly, develop socially and learn new skills. Parenting can be a juggling act at times. If you notice a change in your child’s behavior, take a moment to check on them and offer support. Check out our previous blog post – 10 Ways to Support Your Child’s Mental Health – for tips! 

Prepare your child to cooperate in the classroom

Teaching your child self-discipline can help prepare them for the school year. A child who is self-disciplined is motivated from the inside. They do what is right, even when no one is there to tell them to, and can control their own behavior. Here are a few ways you can teach your child self-discipline: 

  • Give your child options by allowing them to choose between two things. For example, give them the option of having milk or juice with their dinner. This allows them to feel a sense of control over their decisions. 
  • Give your child age appropriate responsibilities. For example, having a child aged 4-6 years old put their toys away. Responsibility is apart of self-discipline
  • Have your child practice sitting still. Remind your child to sit quietly at dinner or during story time. 
  • Relying on routines also builds self-discipline. Following predictable patterns throughout the day can help your child remain calm because they know what will happen next.
  • Don’t forget the basics! Remind your child of the importance of keeping their hands to themselves – especially during this time of the virus – and respecting other people’s belongings. 

It can be hard to let go and allow your child to become independent. It’s okay to take it one step at a time to make it a comfortable transition for you and your little one. 

Find time to help your child succeed

Some days it may be easier to fit more things into a day than others. Learning to use your time efficiently is key. Here are some ways you can maximize your time with your child: 

  • Use time in the car with your child to squeeze in a little more learning. Have your child review simple lessons like spelling words and numbers on the way to and from school. 
  • Spend one-on-one time with your child by reading a book or watching a movie. Kids need both quality and quantity time with you. Quantity time is the amount of time spent between two people. Quality time is the undivided attention between two people that is expected to produce positive interactions.

Balancing work, household responsibilities and parenting can be a daunting task, but it can be a manageable one with the proper guidance. Our Parents as Teachers program can help! The PAT Program provides healthy development and school readiness for children and families, prenatal through kindergarten. For more information, visit our website.


Links to Resources

Parent-Teacher Relationship Building Facts

Parent-Teacher Relationship Building Tips

10 Ways to Support Your Child’s Mental Health

Finding time to help your child succeed