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  • Writer's pictureDr. Pamela Davis

Staying Connected With Your Child's School During a Pandemic


I must admit, it took me some time to get a schedule that works for me and my 4th grader. Since I'm the former teacher, the responsibility of homework and keeping track of his academic performance lies with me. My husband gets to be the "good guy" while I am the "bad guy".


It's been quite interesting seeing my son's technological development advance exponentially over these last few months. He went from clicking multiple-choice answers to doing google searches, downloading and attaching files overnight, it seems. It should come as no surprise as much as he engages on his iPad playing Roblox and Minecraft - but those are things that he enjoys doing, right. Well, this transformation of his tech-savviness has evolved into his ability to access his homework portal to review assignments on a nightly basis. I love that his teachers input the current night's homework as well as upcoming tests and assignments. This portal has helped us to remain connected.


In this blog, I'm sharing tips that come from my dual-perspective of parent and teacher. Here are my thoughts:


Communication.

Introducing yourself to your child's teacher is one way to show your interest in your child's education. Pre-Covid, schools held in-person opportunities for parents to meet teachers, during open house or grade-level orientations. Since the on-set of the pandemic, schools have scheduled virtual meetings in lieu of their traditional face-to-face parent meetings and email communication has increased. Despite not being able to meet with teachers in the traditional way, you can still connect. Email is perhaps the best form of communication. It creates a record and is accessible to the teacher during the school day or after hours. They can respond to you without being bound to time of day. If it's 3am when they reply to you, it will be waiting in your inbox for you. Reaching teachers by phone may be an option, however teachers may not be available during the day to take or make phone calls. Connecting with you child's teacher from the beginning of the school year allows you to establish a communication cadence - as oppose to trying to connect with each other after an issue arises.


Depending upon the age of your student, you can teach them how to communicate with their teacher via email or other appropriate messaging tools. This is a great opportunity to teach your student how to advocate for themselves and take ownership of their grades and schoolwork.


Checking on progress.

Weekly progress checks minimizes surprises. I don't like surprises.

Regardless of the age of your student, it is a good idea to set a regular frequency of checking on their grades. Elementary students usually receive some type of feedback such as corrected papers or a weekly progress report. Middle and High School students generally review their progress via an online grading portal. Teachers' names, assignments, and grades are accessible for students and parents to view. At this age, students can log in, view their grades, and advocate for themselves. Although we are in a pandemic, it is still important to check graded work against submitted work. Due dates and deadlines are still being followed. There may be instances where teachers accept late work, but a weekly review will help you and your student stay current on all assignments.


Connected to Resources.

Schools often share an abundance of information that can at times seem overwhelming. The pandemic has shifted even more information to a digital form. Text messages, social media posts, phone calls, voice messages, and emails are all competing for parents' attention. Find out the best way to access the resources your child's school offers. Many schools have provided extra resources that have not always been available - computer devices, WiFi, internet services along with academic resources such as tutoring and test prep. Schools are also connecting students to community resources as well - food banks, clothing closets, and medical resources. The key is to remain plugged in to the school-based resources so that you can take advantage of available services. Keeping your contact information up-to-date in the school's data base is crucial to benefiting from the resources.


Connected to Activities:

"We plan activities, but parents don't come." As an educator, I'm guilty of saying this.

I get it! I'm a parent too. And sometimes, it's really difficult to pull myself up to attend another event. Even now - when I can just jump on a Zoom call. No traffic, no looking for a parking space, ... just pick up my device and join in. Well parents, when we choose to opt out of activities, we miss out on information and opportunities. I suggest connecting with 1-2 parents from your child's class or grade level. This gives you a couple of others in your peer group to bounce ideas off of and to stay in the know with. I also suggest using some type of calendar to add your events on. I have my events added to my phone calendar which syncs with my computer. You can set reminders, add Zoom meeting links in the notes section and avoid overlap of meetings. I know how hectic schedules can become when you're balancing your schedule with your kids' schedule. Find a rhythm that works for you; reach out to your peer group if by chance you have to miss an event.


Virtual platforms have created a means for schools to continue to deliver relevant information for parents to access in real-time or through recorded sessions. With this in mind, information is readily access. Don't miss out. There is no excuse not to stay connected.



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