Experts have advice for parents entering uncharted back to school territory

TaRhonda Thomas Image
Friday, August 14, 2020
Back to school: Experts have advice for parents
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Whether its online learning or in class-instruction, many parents are entering uncharted territory.

PLYMOUTH MEETING, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- If you are a bundle of nerves over the upcoming school year, you are not alone.

Whether its online learning or in-class instruction, many parents are entering uncharted territory.

The Trent family of Plymouth Meeting "made it through" the sudden shift to online school last year.

Still, it wasn't easy.

"We both spend a lot of time on conference calls during the day, so learning to deal with the interruptions from the kids," Kelci Trent said.

Fourth grader Michael Trent said, "I want to go back to school because I did not like virtual at all."

A lot of families are apprehensive about this year.

"I would actually almost be surprised if a person wasn't anxious in this situation," psychologist Dr. Jason Lewis said.

Because being both "parent and teacher" is a lot of pressure which leads to the first piece of advice.

"Take it one step at a time. This is not something that is easy to master right away," Nicole Manley of Insight PA Cyber Charter School.

Manley should know. She's both a mom and an elementary math interventionist, teaching online for Insight PA. She advises parents to start with a schedule.

"Treat it like a regular school day. Get up, get dressed, brush your teeth. Take your vitamins," Manley said.

Psychologist Dr. Jason Lewis says "mentally prepare" your kids by talking about the upcoming school year now.

"This is not an ideal situation and that there are going to be times when today is just not happening or this day or this hour is not happening and being OK with that," Lewis said.

"There's days when I just had to learn, shut down the computer and just go talk to them," Kelci Trent said.

Experts also suggest having a dedicated learning space.

"Let them be a part of the decision-making process. Because there's a little more buy-in from them," Eileen Cannistraci of Insight PA.

And know that the parents can sometimes need just as much help as the kids.

"They don't really know. Not that they're not smart, they just don't know our kind of math," 8th grader Kaylin Trent said.

"Ask for help from the teachers you're working with, look online for resources," Manley said.

So there you have it, no need to be perfect.

Experts say the best thing we as parents can do in this unusual school year is to realize that we're all still learning.