How to Support Your Child This School Year

The COVID-19 pandemic continues making it a very difficult time to get the best possible education for your children. Most schools are opening this year online. 
There seems to be close to universal agreement that online education on the elementary level, whether full- or part-time, is not nearly as effective for children as being in a classroom. If your children are participating in online learning, there are things that you can do make learning more effective for them: 
• Parents need to work with their children to establish a structured daily routine for online learning, especially if children are not in an online classroom with a teacher at definite times.
• Parents or a caregiver will definitely need to sit and help younger children much of the academic day when they are online to make sure that they stay engaged.
• Parents need to check online frequently to make sure that their children are turning in their assignments and have passing grades.
• Parents should make sure that children at all levels can access their online assignments and classrooms.
• Children should use their computers in a room with limited distractions where you can observe frequently what they are doing.
• Children should have all the necessary supplies that they will need for their academic day online right at their fingertips to avoid the disruption of getting up and looking for them. 
Teachers are still beginning to learn how to teach online lessons. And they vary greatly in their ability to present educational materials effectively to their students. Thus, students do not always stay engaged through an entire lesson. 
Since classroom education ended abruptly last year, your children probably have gaps in their education. Unfortunately, most classes are going to be beginning with the new grade’s curriculum. Even the best students may find it rough going at the start of this school year. Students in regular classrooms can seek help from their teachers and so can online students. However, both may need to find extra help through websites, their parents or tutors.
If your children’s elementary schools are open either full- or part-time, it is imperative that you continue talking to your children about following the safety rules every day. This will help teachers focus more on educational activities rather than spending considerable time teaching and enforcing safety precautions. 
At home, check frequently that your children, especially the younger children, are wearing their masks correctly. Observe them wearing a mask from time to time to make sure that they are keeping their hands off the masks. 
It is equally important that younger children know how to wash their hands and/or use hand sanitizer or disinfectant wipes. We suggest that you watch them do this before every meal to ensure that they are doing this correctly.
As long as this COVID-19 pandemic lasts, parents and caregivers are going to need to give their children extra guidance so that they will get the best possible education.

Peggy Gisler and Marge Eberts are longtime educators. Marge lives in the Bay Area where she is a volunteer teacher in the San Ramon Valley School District. Peggy is the director of special education at a high school. Send questions and comments to [email protected].


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