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Questions parents should ask their kids as they adjust after a virtual school year

WJLA – Washington D.C. logo WJLA – Washington D.C. 9/27/2021 Adrianna Hopkins
Questions parents should ask their kids as they adjust after a virtual school year
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Classes have been in session, in-person for a few weeks now and education experts say a daily check-in will help you gauge how your kids are adjusting after the virtual school year. 7News Adrianna Hopkins spoke with Majidah Muhammad, founder of “The Learning Cove,” who says that means more than asking “how was your day?”

Muhammad founded “The Learning Cove” to share tips on Instagram and create materials to help parents really engage and be involved in their children’s learning. She has three kids under seven years old and understands how tough the past school year was on parents.

“That was a lot to juggle, not only being a mom doing virtual learning, but also getting my students virtually set up as well,” she said. “For many moms teaching is not something that comes easy to them. And many moms were just so overwhelmed.”

So while parents were anxious for in-person learning to start, Muhammad says it’s time to check for any anxiety in your kids. The best way to do that – help them “debrief” when they get home.

“So instead of asking a general question: how was school? Some more specific probing questions – what made you smile, did you help anyone, did anything make you sad? What did you learn today? Show me something you learned today. Ask some more specific questions to really get at the heart of their experience at school.”

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She says if your child is having a hard time with the adjustment, continue asking open-ended questions – ask if there’s anything your kid, you or their teacher can do to help them. And include your child in the solution. Ask the teacher to be a partner in the solution as well.

Adrianna asked Majidah about other ways parents can communicate with their kids:

1. Let’s say you “debrief” with your child and create a solution to whatever issue the child may be experiencing. How do you follow up to make sure the issue is getting better without “prying?”

Majidah: Your child’s well-being is important. “Prying” is another word for concern. It’s important to have a relationship with your child’s teacher. When there is a relationship between parent and teacher, it should not feel like “prying” and the teacher may even follow up with you about how things are going. When parents are appropriately concerned, they should feel comfortable going to the teacher and saying “Hey! I just wanted to follow up. How are things going with Haqq? Does the solution we came up with seem to be working?”

Also, check-in with your child. Asking open-ended questions about school will really help get answers you may not have if you just ask “how was school?”. Ask questions such as, “Tell me how you handled a difficult situation today, or Tell me what was the hardest thing you had to do today”.

2. After a virtual year for many, some kids are out of sync with their normal school routine. How do you re-center their focus?

Majidah: Getting back into a routine can be difficult for children and parents. The good news is children need structure and thrive with routines. Use a morning and evening checklist. You can create this with your children to make it more engaging for them. This will help create independence and ownership in the morning and evening while still having structure. Remind them of your family values and create routines and structures that reflect those values. On our website, ourlearningcove.com, we have an editable morning and evening routine checklist. Many parents have used it successfully.

3. Parents have explained to kids what COVID is and why they’re wearing a mask. If a teacher or peer contracts COVID, how do you discuss that with your children? What are the key messages to express?

Majidah: Share honest and accurate information about their teacher or peer on a level they can understand. Validate any feelings of anxiety or worry. Respond with empathy: “I know you’re worried. The good news is your teacher/friend will be out for a short time and return to school when the virus is gone. That will keep you and everyone else at school safe.” Remind them of all the things we can do to make sure we stay safe and healthy : take vitamins, eat lots of fruits and veggies, exercise, wash hands, wear a mask and social distance.

4. What are some fun “de-stress” activities to do with your children?

Majidah: Some de-stress activities to do with your children are yoga, dancing, nature walks, coloring, painting, meditating, or playing with play dough. Check out our website, ourlearningcove.com, for more ideas, fun things to do and helpful learning products.

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