How to Keep Your Children Engaged With Learning in a Challenging School Year
With the school year just around the corner, parents are keen on keeping children engaged, once again, with learning. It’s that much more challenging when you have a child with diverse needs, whether they are academically-advanced or require other supports to keep their attention focused on school. From the educator's perspective, there is also so much to balance: safety, curriculum, the gaps to be filled from last year, and student happiness and supporting mental health. In general, the recommendation would be to do what is best for your family. The truth is that there is no one-size-fits-all approach in this kind of situation because, let's face it, this situation never existed before (in our lifetimes).
With that in mind, it is important to have frank and honest discussions with your child. During these conversations, modelling healthy coping strategies (i.e. breathing exercises, journaling, and taking some time to reconnect with the family) can be very helpful. It is important to know how your child feels about going back to school so that you can communicate effectively with their teacher. Since building a safe and welcoming classroom community — whether in-person or online — will be of primary importance in September, it would be incredibly helpful to provide as much information about your child's needs and worries in advance.
It is equally important to consider supplementing your child's education with other experiences. This can be an opportune time to learn a new skill or try a new activity as well as to grow and seek enrichment. Just like with any new and unchartered territory, a cohesive plan to help the family thrive during this time will be helpful and rewarding. This plan can include a clear schedule and routine for the child to follow, calming activities to help with any anxiety and opportunities that help boost engagement with school and learning. Think of the months ahead — with virtual and in-class challenges in the mix — as an opportunity to stretch your child's brain beyond standard academics. It’s your chance to provide a more well-rounded type of education: one that will take them further in life and equip them with the tools they need to be successful. The good news is there is much to learn from these less-than-perfect times and, fortunately, there are specialty enrichment programs catering precisely to enrichment learning students so desperately need right now! At home, reading, writing, and documenting the world around them create an outlet for children’s emotions and help promote literacy skills at any age. In any case, it is important to remember that this year will be unique for children, parents, and educators alike. Please remember to reach out to your child’s teachers and other professionals to help support your family through this challenging time; we’re all in this together.
About the Author: Karine Rashkovsky, Honours B.Sc., B.Ed., M.Ed., Ph.D. (Education Policy) and Founder, Director, & Lead Instructor of Brain Power Enrichment Programs Ltd., is well-known for her passionate, quirky, and inspiring teaching from the heart, as well as her extensive knowledge in a variety of academic fields. At Brain Power, Karine brings her passion for writing, public speaking, literature, textual analysis, philosophy, and the humanities to our programs, where she sees it her duty to inspire a love of learning and critical thinking. Find out more at: www.brainpower.ca.