In these highly unpredictable times, there are few things we can control about going back to school. To keep students and staff safe during the pandemic, local school districts across the U.S. are offering a patchwork of remote, hybrid, and brick-and-mortar options for education. Parents want to provide stability for their students, but in most cases, plans are subject to change.
One thing that doesn’t have to change is your love and support for your children. And there are small but important things you can do to show unconditional support — no matter what going back to school looks like.
Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) warriors share the concerns many families have. Here are five things some of them recommend to make this time more bearable for the entire family.
- Focus on appreciation. Every member of the family has had to make a big shift. In many cases, younger ones are better prepared to adopt the technologies involved in remote learning and work. Acknowledge their expertise and let them help you with things like Zoom backgrounds. Allow them to contribute — and have a little fun.
- Establish a routine. Most students – as well as many adults – crave structure, and you don’t necessarily have to ring a bell to provide a set schedule. Kids can still get up, do homework, and go to bed at about the same time as before. Army veteran Michael Matthews (Texas) starts his day at 5:30 a.m. “I manage my stress by taking the first part of my day to look at the day’s tasks,” Michael said. “I then work out for about 30 minutes to an hour. With our three kids home now, I cook breakfast and wake up all the kids by 7:30 a.m. to get the day started.”
- Give children a job. More people in the house means more housework. Children can chip in. Consider that many of you are now the parent, teacher, and playmate — and you still have other responsibilities. “It’s important to include kids in everyday tasks like making dinner,” Army veteran and WWP staff member Jeremiah Pauley (California) said. “I’ll ask one of my two kids to help make the rice. That way they’re involved in learning and helping out. Then I invite them for an after-dinner walk around the block.”
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Find a virtual support group for parents. “No one has the answers for the best way to do this,” Jeremiah said. “Open the conversation and learn from others. We’re all learning together.”
- Stay connected. Reach out to other parents, ask questions, or just give a virtual high five to someone. Sometimes, just sharing questions can lead to conversation, especially among veterans and military families. “There was just warmth and kindness and a feeling of connectedness,” Jenna Malone (Florida), a mom of three and wife of a Navy veteran, said about connecting with a group of caregivers. “It was like everyone clicked, and we all had this unspoken understanding of each other.”
Even when things were “normal,” wearing many hats and keeping everyone in your household on schedule took a lot of energy. Pat yourself on the back. Take a pause and appreciate everything you can share with your children today. Sometimes, a small gesture or kind response is all your children need.
Maybe this is the year we all have a better chance to appreciate our children and others involved in their care and education — teachers are rising heroes in 2020.
Jeremiah, who has a 9th grader and a 5th grader, put it best: “A newfound appreciation for educators and school administrators is blossoming. The people we sent our kids to for years are underappreciated.”
Perhaps what our children will remember the most about this year is that we were there for them and surrounded them with love and support. And that support is available to you, too, through WWP.
You can also connect and engage with WWP and other warriors through WWP’s official social channels: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram. Or register as a warrior or family member on WWP’s website.
About Wounded Warrior Project
Since 2003, Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) has been meeting the growing needs of warriors, their families, and caregivers — helping them achieve their highest ambition. Learn more.
Back On The School Bus? Roll to a Successful School Year with These Tips from WWP (2019)
5 Back to School Resources for Military Kids (Military.com)