What a historic year in so many ways. On a good day I feel like being a mom can be a whirlwind of emotions, questions, and uncertainty. I think on some level we were all hoping that things would get back to some kind of normalcy by the time the 2020-2021 school year rolled around, but here we are….making even more difficult decisions in what seems like an even more unstable society. Since the day my daughter was born, I have always thought the decision of where/when/how she was going to go to school was one of the most influential decisions I could make for her. I liked so many aspects of homeschool, private school, and public school but which one was ultimately going to be the best for us……honestly, I still have no idea. No matter which option of where/how your child will go to school my strongest advice is to do what is best for YOUR family and not feel pressured by outside sources. On one hand I feel fortunate to have my daughter only entering pre-k this year and on the other hand I feel stressed to have this be the way we start her school journey. But we have to remember everything is perspective. Though this school year may not be exactly how we pictured it going, we owe it to our kids to make it the ‘best year yet’! Together with my SWEET gals, we have put together some tips on how to prepare for the upcoming school year no matter how you choose to do it!
For those looking to go back to a classroom setting, our biggest tip is to START EARLY on a new routine. We all know that getting your kids on a schedule takes time so starting early with things like and earlier bedtime and an earlier wake time can pay off big time when it comes to the first day of school. Just assume your child, like any other, might have difficulty with change. Even if they don’t show it right out the door it might catch up with them throughout the day. Alashandra: “Start now! Get a routine started now. Wake up and get ready for the day just like you will for when school starts.”
Get prepared the night before. This is something we learned early with our daughter. We found she was more functional in the morning (and less cranky if I am being completely honest) if she had to make less decisions. So, the night before we would pick out her clothes (her choice of course), made sure her school bag was packed, and she picked her lunch. As long as we had these things done, we rarely had upset mornings and she could start her day with confidence and less chaos which leads to better learning. Alashanda also highly recommends to “have them pick clothes out and make sure bags are ready the night before.”
Make sure they are getting adequate amounts of sleep. Brain function relies heavily on the amount of sleep you get. Don’t hesitate to set new rules for the school year with it comes to bedtime. Things like limiting screen time, specifically at night, will help your child fall asleep faster and stay asleep. Blue light on screens interrupt normal hormone function in both kids and adults so at the very least wearing blue light filtering glasses will help reduce exposure.
Get started each morning on the right foot with a healthy breakfast. Start feeding your child’s brain and body with foods higher in protein and healthy fats. Carbohydrates are also essential as they give kids energy. Meghan (one of our SWEET gals who currently doesn’t have children) got some great advice some a seasoned mama: “I asked my mom and she said to make sure they eat something in the morning – it doesn’t have to be a lot, but at least something to get their brains going!”
Nurture the health of your child on a daily basis. Not only does your child need great nutrition in order to function on a daily basis, your they need specific supplements as well. Even the most organic diet today isn’t always sufficient to get your child everything he/she need to grown, develop, and function the way they were intended. I highly suggest what I call the core 4: multivitamin, omega, vitamin D, and a probiotic. Supplements not only bridge the gap between what we lack in our food, but they also help to strengthen our immune system to handle germs/viruses they might come into contact with. Other supplements to take into consideration when strengthening the immune system are; vitamin C, elderberry, colloidal silver, and echinacea. There are many variations of this, of course, so please consult a true health care provider, like myself, for assistance. Other things that really help fight sickness are detox baths and essential oils like lavender, thieves, on guard, eucalyptus, oregano, etc.
Paris: “I think it’s important to have a conversation with your kiddos about how things are different this year but maybe highlight some things that are the same. Express that they aren’t alone, and all kids are expressing similar feelings and changers this year.” I’ve always stated that I when I had children I was always “talk to them like adults”. Now, that’s not exactly how it goes but I am really purposeful on always talking with my daughter about what’s going on in life. For example, when it was time to potty train at 2 years old, we talked about not wearing diapers anymore. She said “ok!” and when on with life. She did poop in the living room once but for the most part, she did fantastic. When it was time to transition out of breastfeeding when she was 2.5 years old, we talked and again I got an “ok!” and never looked back. I completely understand this isn’t as easy as it sounds but I do think we sometimes underestimate the power of communication with our children. Thank Paris, FANTASTIC and HEALTHY advice!!
School isn’t going to look the same for some people this year. A large number of parents have decided to go the homeschool route. If this is your first-year homeschooling or you’re a seasoned vet, our SWEET gal, Janae, has some STELLAR advice!
For those jumping into “traditional” homeschooling.
1. Homeschooling doesn’t need to look like public school at home. Embrace the flexibility of homeschooling and change your expectations to fit your own personal circumstances.
2. Look into doing a period of de-schooling your kids before stating your school year.
3. Find your homeschooling style of teaching and your children’s styles of learning and do your research on homeschooling philosophies (Teach From Rest by Sarah Mackenzie is a good read for all)
4. Your curriculum choices will undoubtedly change as you get to know your kids and your own teaching styles so don’t be afraid to stop and change course if something isn’t working. Use the curriculum, don’t be a slave to it.
5. Relax! Look at YOUR end goal. Is this for a season (1-2 years) or for the long haul? Regardless, each year is a marathon, not a sprint. You can’t teach your kids EVERYTHING they need to ever know so choose only what is most important for you and them during this season.
6. For the younger years; focus on the basics (reading writing, math) and love of learning. They will learn all the rest when they are older.
7. Don’t expect your kids (especially the younger ones) to spend the same amount of time homeschooling as they did in public school.
8. Be flexible. Find what works. Your family is unique so don’t expect your homeschool method/routine/schedule to look the same as someone else’s.
9. Find a support system (other homeschooling parents – locally or online), especially those who have lots of experience!
10. Read lots of good books to your kids (audiobooks are good too!). Talk to your kids. Utilize this time to love on your kids. Relationship is more important than the homework.