With fall and the new school year looming, most parents are busy wondering exactly what school is going to look like. Needless to say, in almost every state around the country school will look strikingly different than it did last year. Of course, for parents who have homeschooled in the past, the upcoming school year, while still different, is likely to feel a little bit more familiar. But, whether you’re planning on sending your children back to school, gearing up to homeschool for the first time or prepping your schedule for another year of school at home, parents right now need the support of each other more than ever.
As parents, we always want what’s best for our children. Right now, knowing “what’s best” is a loaded question, and one that can quickly spark debate, if not downright arguments, almost immediately. What hasn’t changed for parents, however, is that we know what’s best for our kids innately and, if we remember to trust ourselves, we can feel confident about the decisions we make this fall. Children are unique — they always have been. And, as such, what works for one child isn’t going to work for another. In this current climate, considering what’s best for the entire family is going to play a big role in the schooling decisions we make as parents, which is why it’s so important not to be judging, critiquing, or condemning other parents who are choosing a different route.
Below are five things parents of school-aged children can keep in mind and practice this upcoming school year to make sure they are helping support parents in their local (and virtual) community.
- Respect each other. Each parent is mulling over the same questions you are, bringing in their own unique perspective and beliefs. While it’s likely that many parents you know might be making different decisions than you are about the upcoming school year, remember that they are doing so in a way that feels safe and intelligent for themselves and their families. Respect each other’s decisions and refrain from criticism and judgment, even when other parents aren’t present.
- Consider reasons “why”. Even parents who come to the same conclusion about school this year are still not in total agreement about everything happening in the world. Chances are there will be a hundred different reasons why a parent chooses to homeschool or return to school this fall. From work schedules to health and safety, remember that your own reason why isn’t necessarily why other parents are choosing the same route.
- Don’t assume. Because reasons why will vary from parent to parent, it’s incredibly important not to assume another parent is automatically “good” or “bad”, “smart” or “incompetent” based on the decisions they’re making for their family.
- Stay flexible. In most states, schools closed abruptly and rather unexpectedly this spring. Right now, most schools and school districts around the country are still trying to figure out a plan for the fall. This means, no one really knows what school will look like come September, or November, or even next March through June. Whatever decision you’re making, know that there will in all likelihood be changes you’ll need to reconsider as the year progresses.
- Stick together. Parents need each other in order to feel supported and to help keep communities strong and safe. Regardless of beliefs and choices, we need to stick together, supporting each other, being kind, and remembering that we’re all doing our best to care for our children and our families the best way we know how.
While there’s no perfect answer, parents across the country this fall need to work on staying calm, confident, and kind so that our communities, whatever they might look like, can continue to grow and thrive.