Remember back in March when we could hug each other and we weren’t scared of the grocery store? I do!!! And I miss pre-COVID times with a passion! Call it naivete, but I really thought this would be over within a few short months. Yet, here we are, living in our Zoom grids and wishing we could dunk our hands in buckets of lotion (all the hand washing!).
Since we had to cancel all of our spring and fall events, and most of our regular programming, your IWRBR friends had to get creative with how to connect with our tribe. So, once a week, visit our website, sit down with your pumpkin spice beverage, and read about all the cool things. Ashley and I will be regular contributors (laughing emoji), but we are also going to kick things up with guest bloggers who have awesome insights, knowledge, and experience to share with you, our amazing supporters!
IWRBR started an NTI support center for our students and families back in September because the whole process is different, overwhelming, and just plain hard. What I’ve discovered is that every teacher, and every school, is doing something different. And that is okay, because we are all just trying to make the best of it. However, here are five tips to make your NTI experience go smoother, with less tears and colorful language (no judgement, it happens to the best of us).
1. MAKE. A. SCHEDULE.
Because everything is on the computer, it is so easy to let it dictate when and how we go about our day. This is especially true when we have to be online to complete our own work and kiddos are doing all their learning in Google Classroom. Schedules give us structure and a sense of control. After a few days of enduring a fly by the seat of my pants (please change this, I couldn’t think of a way to say this) at NTI Day Camp, it was clear that the students (and the teachers) desperately needed a structured outline of how to move through our day. For younger students, or students that have trouble focusing, it can be helpful to embed some free time doing a preferred activity. Transfer the responsibility of keeping track of their tasks to your students. Let them make the check mark when they get something done. It provides them a sense of satisfaction and you don’t have to keep track of another thing! Check out this simple schedule we utilize at our NTI day camp that has been a lifesaver!
2. Get hands-on.
Has anyone tried to have a kindergartner trace their letters on a computer, with the cursor flying around the screen every which way? Yep, same here. Our students need concrete experiences to tie to brand new concepts, which means they need to use their hands, eyes, and words to explore content. Don’t be afraid to bring the assignment they are struggling with off the screen. Use what you have around the house! Did your kiddo’s teacher ask them to trace a new letter? Break out the crayons and paper. Need to solve a particularly tricky, two-step word problem? Use some cut up pieces of paper as math manipulatives. Check out how our staff has gotten crafty with turning in assignments!
3. Have fun. Take a break. Do something normal.
We are coming up on a festive season! Fall and winter are always crazy fun at school with projects, assemblies, field trips, and class parties. Help them experience that joy they normally would at school. Paint a pumpkin. Drink cider. Do all the basic things that remind your student (and you), that among all the things that are now different, life is still good.
4. Give students the space to process the craziness.
I know the feeling. We’re rushed. There are a million things to do, with deadlines to meet, and people hounding us with constant communication. But there is a lot of stuff going on. Our world feels scary and uncertain right now. Start each day by checking in with your kiddo about their emotional temperature for the day. In our programs, we use a five point scale, with 5 being the worst day you’ve ever had, and 1 being complete elation. You can model for your child before asking them to try. For example, “Today, I’m feeling like a 3 because it is going to be a really busy day and I am feeling worried that I won’t get everything done.” This sounds simple, but taking the time to do this brings awareness to emotions that you are bringing to your day, and it encourages empathy for each other.
5. Advocate for your student and yourself.
If your child(ren) is struggling with his or her classwork, and it is a fight to get it done, think about asking for accommodations for your student. It is possible that because your child’s teacher was not able to meet your kiddo face to face and do the usual round of assessments, they might not know where to meet your child academically. Call or email your point of contact at the school to communicate your concerns. I promise you that your child’s teacher does not want your student to struggle through this process!
Finally, know that all seasons change. And this one just sucks. You can do it. Take deep breaths, and give yourself the grace that you allow others.