Organizing for Back to School, Home and Hybrid

September 10 2020
blackboard with Back to School written on it

The sentiments ring out again and again. Going back to school this year is like no other. Whether your child returns to the brick and mortar,  participates in remote learning or a combination of both, create organizing systems to support a successful school year.

Back to School and Home Again

Remember when going back to school was considered the most wonderful time of the year? My how times have changed! Fast forward and here we are, adapting almost every aspect of our lives to living through a pandemic.

School districts across the country have been struggling for months with just how to modify the learning experience to ensure students are maintaining the necessary level of education. At the same time new and essential cleaning and disinfecting measures are becoming routine tasks to keep the most unwelcome virus at bay, and to keep all involved as safe as possible. Here in the Bay State, many school districts have chosen a hybrid model: 2 days of in-school learning, 3 days of at home learning. The format is further broken down by school age groups, elementary, middle, and high school students. Families have the ultimate choice of how their children participate. It is a new normal indeed, and for most, not so wonderful.

Organizing for School Success

This year your family’s school year may look like a checkerboard. Now more than ever, creating and maintaining a system to support back to school efforts is vital.  Adapting a proper mindset is key. Yes, things are different this year. However, whether the classroom is in the school building or at home, kids must show up and be prepared for school every day. What will it take?

  1. Set up a home learning center. Choose an area devoted to learning and free of distractions. Store toys and games out of view in a closed cabinet for instance. Create the physical distinction between a place for schoolwork and a place for play.
  2. Technology will play an important role. While the school may supply a Chromebook or similar device, a printer together with a requisite supply of ink and paper is essential. Zoom or another video conferencing tool may be a prominent feature in today’s new learning environment, and a good set of headphones will help your child maintain focus on the lessons at hand.
  3. No matter where the learning takes place, school supplies will continue to be a must.  Prepare the needed supplies for each child for both school and home.
    • Desktop accessories like a vertical or magazine file and a supplies caddy will keep the necessary materials always available without taking up lots of space. Don’t forget about the need for good lighting in the workspace as well.
    • A rolling cart for supplies can be a handy tool if a dedicated desk with storage is not an option. With multiple colors to choose from, each child can have his very own stash of grade-level supplies at the ready.
    • Use a dry-erase or cork board in the at home learning center. Post school rules, homework assignments, daily schedules and a Do Not Disturb sign when quiet time and concentration is a must.
  4. Don’t forget about the routines you had in the past that helped make for a smooth morning or to get you out the door on time. Remember the mindset. A school day is a school day.
    • Load backpacks the night before in-school days. Masks, lanyards, hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes are additions not be forgotten. Include non-shareable supplies like a water bottle, pencils, markers, ruler, and other classroom must haves normally available in the classroom that likely will not be offered this year.
    • Decide school outfits in advance. Even Zoom appearances are worthy of snazzy new school clothes.
    • Maintain consistent morning tasks, no matter the day’s venue.
    • Prepare snacks and lunches for the following day as part of the dinner clean up routine – even for at home learning days.

It is often said that a child’s job is to go to school. Of course, you want to do everything possible to support and nurture the learning experience wherever it may be. Create the necessary systems and establish the necessary routines to do just that. Be sure to also include a healthy dose of patience and have a wonderful school year!