Photo Credit: Jewish Press

When schools suddenly closed this year, teachers, parents, and students had no idea what to expect. They also had little or no time to prepare for remote learning – and many of us saw huge successes and huge failures as well. With the preparations to reopen schools in September, either in-person or remotely, we all need to figure out where our priorities lie. And, most importantly, how can we ensure that the experience will be safe AND productive.

How can you set your priorities in order to maximize this coming school year?

  • Prepare the “school supplies. Every year, it is important to go school supply shopping in order to buy the books and materials needed to learn. For remote school, preparing school supplies might look a little different. Do you have a space for your children to sit with minimal distractions? Do you have a device that will support that learning? Do you have an easy to follow schedule posted in a central location?
  • Think skills, not activities. Depending on your children’s ages, there are different foundational skills that they are taught in each grade and subject. The most relevant foundational skills in elementary school involved reading, writing, and math. If your child is struggling with an activity, consider speaking to the teacher about his or her goals for the activity. Perhaps it can be modified in order to ensure the same skills are acquired.
  • More than academics. I think we all very strongly felt the sense of isolation that we (and our children) experienced when we were sheltering in place in order to stop the spread of the virus. Even though virtual school and work were taking place, we missed the daily social interactions. These social interactions are especially important for children, and should be taken into account when preparing for the next school year. How will you incorporate play with peers for your child?
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The one advantage that we have moving forward into a school year that will look different from every other school year is that we know this in advance. We don’t necessarily know how it will look different or when it will look different or even for how long, but we know that it has fundamentally changed. If we order our priorities in advance, we can all prepare to tackle it a bit more successfully!

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An acclaimed educator and social skills ​specialist​, Mrs. Rifka Schonfeld has served the Jewish community for close to thirty years. She founded and directs the widely acclaimed educational program, SOS, servicing all grade levels in secular as well as Hebrew studies. A kriah and reading specialist, she has given dynamic workshops and has set up reading labs in many schools. In addition, she offers evaluations G.E.D. preparation, social skills training and shidduch coaching, focusing on building self-esteem and self-awareness. She can be reached at 718-382-5437 or at rifkaschonfeld@gmail.com.