By Jen Reisinger, MA, LMHC, Villa Academy School Counselor
Finding “the groove” looks different this school year. Your student is learning in three unique ways at school right now: in the classroom,
asynchronously at home, and synchronously at home. There may be times where you planned for your student to be in the classroom but they
need to learn from home due to symptoms of illness or a known COVID exposure. There are a lot of moving pieces at play, which can make young
learners feel out of sorts. Here are some tips that can help.
Tip 1: Keep the end in mind
Keep front and center what your goal is for your child as they move to the other side of this unique time in our history. Remember that
Villa is full of highly-qualified, passionate teachers that are working creatively to educate your students while also adapting curriculum
to the priority goals of cultivating a love for learning. Your student is learning resilience, creativity, and adaptability while they also
receive instruction on core subjects. As parents and supportive adults, you are teaching your child to persevere, be flexible, and to focus
on the things that matter most in your family right now. When we have moved beyond this pandemic, your student will continue to have
highly-qualified, passionate teachers that will meet your child’s educational needs.
Tip 2: Routine, routine, routine
“But how can we have a routine if things change every day?” Take a moment to think about your child’s day. What can your student count on
during weekdays? Your child has a wake-up time or zone. Your child has breakfast, changes into clothes for the day, brushes their teeth.
Does your child have morning chores, activity time, or other anchor points? Once school begins (on campus or remotely), your child has
learning time, recess time, and learning time. Mid-day they have lunch and recess time, followed by learning time. After school, what
routines does your child have and what can they count on? Play time, family dinner, one-on-one time with an adult, story time, bedtime
routines. As a family, decide on routines that can be predictable and counted on. Keep your child’s wake-up times consistent for each
weekday. We all know that kids do best when they know what to expect—so while their learning location might change by day, the larger
routine can help support kids in building flexibility for this.
Tip 3: Make it visual
Many of us keep our calendars on our phones. We keep our routines in our heads. Think of your student’s classroom. Every classroom has a
schedule posted for students on the board. Why is that? Because children thrive on knowing what the plan is! Recruit your child to help you
create a visual schedule of their daily routine. There are endless possibilities for how this might look. Post your visual schedule in a
high-traffic area of your home or near your child’s learning space. Begin each day by reviewing the schedule and prepping your child for the
day ahead, whether they are learning from home or heading off to campus.
Tip 4: Clear stops and starts for remote learning
When your child is learning in the classroom your child has very concrete indications that the school day has begun or that the school day
has ended. Learning (and working!) from home can leave blurrier boundaries around time. Create a concrete transition for the end of the
school day to help separate learning time from family time. This might include putting away supplies, plugging in the iPad, and going
outside right after your child’s last learning task. Maybe your child always sits down at the kitchen table for a snack and a check-in with
you or their supportive adult. After this clear transition, now your child’s focus is on play, family, movement, and personal interests.
Tip 5: Acknowledge feelings and build skills for how to cope with those feelings
Your child experiences feelings all of the time. When it comes to seeing your child feel disappointed, frustrated, sad, or worried it can be
very easy to want to solve or “fix” that for your child. Remind yourself that your child is allowed to feel their feelings and there are no
“bad” feelings. Validating your child’s feelings is incredibly powerful. If your child is having trouble naming their feeling, practice
emotion identification with them. Once a child learns how to identify their feeling they can begin discovering coping skills that help
support them with their feeling. As adults when we feel angry or sad we have a whole toolbox of things we do to manage those feelings. Your
child is still building their toolbox and needs your help. Work with your child to experiment with different strategies to help them move
through their tough feeling.
Tip 6: Communicate with your team
While no feeling is wrong or bad, you also know your child best. If you are noticing patterns with your child that concern you, please reach
out to your student’s teaching team to share what you see. There may be specific strategies that can be implemented for your child that help
build their feelings of safety and comfort during a challenging time. Your student’s teachers want to hear from you about how your student
is doing. You also might consider reaching out to other people on your child’s team such as specialist teachers, Julie Grasseschi (Lower
School Director), Brit Pauser (Lower School Learning Support Specialist), or Jen Reisinger (School Counselor).
Tip 7: Take care of you
There are so many reasons that self care is important always, but is especially critical during challenging times. Be sure that you don’t forget about your needs. Give yourself permission when it’s time to adjust priorities, ask for help, or take a break. You matter, too.