It’s hard to believe, but school is starting for kids from Houston real estate in just a few short weeks, if it hasn’t already. Of the 25 districts with schools in the city, each one is offering a slightly different plan for the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year. Some districts will offer both in-person and online instruction, while others are planning to begin the year with all online learning and reassess the situation after six weeks or so. Some parents are breathing a sigh of relief that school is starting back up, while others are wondering how to manage online learning in their Houston homes while working. Whatever your feelings and needs, we have a few suggestions to help you and your kids get ready.
Families that have chosen to send their kids back to school should be aware of some changes that have occurred because of the coronavirus pandemic. For a start, before entering any public school on Houston real estate, everyone will have a health check, which can include temperatures being taken. Most students will be required to wear a mask in the classroom, as will teachers. Precautions like frequent hand-washing and sanitizing will be in place.
It’s important to go over these changes with kids before school starts. Teach kids to sing the “Happy Birthday” song or another song so that they wash their hands for a full 20 seconds. Be sure they have a bottle of hand sanitizer in their pockets or backpacks. Let them pick out a couple of masks in fun colors or with their favorite characters. Younger kids or kids not used to masks might want to practice wearing them at home so it won’t be a burden when school starts. Lots of after school activities and extracurricular events have been cancelled for the time being. Check your school’s website for a full list. If one of your kid’s favorites has been cancelled, talk to them about it. Kids might feel really sad and upset about not being able to participate in sports or other clubs. Let them talk about their feelings, but reassure them that it’s not forever.
Not every school district is offering in-person options at the beginning of the school year. For instance, Houston Independent School District, the area’s largest, will begin entirely online. The first day of school is September 8th, and in-person instruction is scheduled to begin on October 16th. Parents will have the option to continue online learning, too. Families from Houston real estate that receive free or reduced lunches at school can continue to do so during virtual learning. Select schools will have curbside pickup.
Kids and parents who will be online learning should establish a routine and set up Houston homes to facilitate learning. Set up a “school” area separate from toys and the noisier areas of the house so kids can concentrate. If you have more than one child in school, you should think about the kids’ dynamics. Some kids might like to have a mini classroom for everyone. Others will prefer to be separate from their siblings.
Make sure kids have all their books and supplies within easy reach. Each child should have their own box to keep pencils, markers, erasers, and other supplies handy. Clear space on a bookshelf for textbooks and notebooks. When several children are in the same area, make sure each one has a set of headphones so they can concentrate on their online lessons. Try to find a pair with a microphone so they can participate in class discussions with their headphones on. These should be kept with each child’s school supplies.
For those who won’t be picking up lunch at school, come up with your own lunch plan. This can be a time when kids and parents who are working from home can come together and reconnect. Keep simple meals on hand, so you don’t have to scramble. Lay out cheese, meat, bread, and your favorite condiments for a sandwich bar. Have different fruit and veggie options, too. Some families might like to have a big pot of soup already made. Or throw some potatoes in the oven for a baked potato bar. Paper plates and plastic flatware will help simplify clean up.
Don’t forget breakfast! Decide on a rotation of breakfast options to have on hand. Kids are often in need of a mid-morning or mid-afternoon snack. Keep some healthy choices in the fridge, like cheese sticks, hard boiled eggs, fruit, cut veggies, and whole-grain crackers.
Most families still have a few days or weeks to get kids back on a school wake up and bedtime schedule. It’s a good idea to start soon. This gives kids plenty of time to get used to being “up and at ‘em” after the relaxation of summer.
As more details about the virtual schedule are released, be sure to build in time for kids to play and be outdoors. More than ever, they will need to be able to decompress after hours spent on the computer. Most Houston parks and trails are open, so plan a few days to take everyone hiking or biking. You also have time to get new play equipment for your backyard--basketballs or soccer balls, a wiffle bat set, squirt guns, and jump ropes can help kids get their energy out after a long day of “zoom school”.
We hope these suggestions help you have a successful beginning to the school year. Good luck to everyone!
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