PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — School boards are making decisions and giving parents the chance to send their children back to school either full time or part time. Many of those decisions will have to be made during the month of October.
Parents have watched their children either thrive or struggle in the homeschooling environment, so the decision might be easy for some and difficult for others.
Licensed Clinical Social Workers David Morris from New Directions Counseling says making a change now may not be as disruptive to your child as you might think.
“Normally you’d say, really disruptive, but I think during this time, you know, kids are sort of bracing themselves for whatever comes next. I think they realize that there’s adjustments that are going to be ongoing, and probably the sad thing is that they just can’t settle in to what’s next.”
So as a parent, what should you be looking for in your child that would indicate a change is needed?
Morris says, “You know we’ve been giving sort of these topics to parents at our practice socialization engagement, technology and health issues, and we sort of walk them through each one of these factors to see how the kids doing and what issues are coming up that the parent should be concerned about. So, if you’re seeing more isolation. I think that’s probably an issue, they’re just doing online school, and then burying their head somewhere. I’m not asking about friends you know not asking for connections not using their creativity to come up with new ideas. That could be a possible sign of concern that they’re too withdrawn.”
Morris says not only observe your child, but talk to them about how it’s going.
“You know, you’re watching for their energy level you’re watching for their interaction, you know, are they, I try to watch some of my kids online are they engaged, you know, are they following instructions you know the teacher says, grab a paper and pencil, you know, are they they’re grabbing a paper and pencil do they need extra prompts, but definitely watch. And then you can also watch their effect you know at night you get an opportunity to eat with them or spend any time with them, get an idea of what their face looks like and you know how they’re expressing themselves.”
And he says be proactive, “You can always engage kids and empower them by doing little things like, check your schedule, what books do you need right now, you know, what do you think you need a notebook right now and sort of empower them to get ready for each class.”
While parents can check on grade progress Morris says, “I’m less concerned about how their performances are and more concerned about the ability to start the ability to finish the ability to organize a little bit the, the ability to pre plan, even to manage your emotions during assign because it can be frustrating, or it can be confusing you know you’ll here a lot of kids asking a lot of questions because the instructions are harder to deliver online.”
While this might be surprising to many parents and maybe even a bit unsettling Morris says don’t leave the impact on you out of the decision equation.
Watch as KDKA’s John Shumway reports:
“You know one of the things we talk to parents about is also their own needs, and parents have needs through all this too. And they have to decide, you know what kind of time do they need, what self care options are they using so that they’re not going crazy either. Um, and they’re not isolating too much. And so you’re balancing all that out the technology and what the parent needs. What the parent needs are, with the kids socialization engagement academic needs are. And then you have to make that informed decision.”
He fully understands parents don’t want to admit their own needs are part of their decision.
“No, but you know, it’s one of those like ‘put on the oxygen mask first’ so you can help your kids. They specifically tell you that on the airplane so you have to have the energy and the motivation and be organized yourself so that you can be present for your kids. And so your needs are just as important. During this time.”
These are not easy decisions to make especially since the risk of COVID-19 remains very real and families have to weigh the vulnerabilities at home.
The good news is school districts are being flexible and in many cases a wrong decision can be reversed each nine weeks.