School Started, Now What?
Education has never looked the way it does now. Many students have converted their cozy bedroom into learning quarters. Others are back on campus, learning in their pods, keeping a social distance from their friends and teachers, and doing their best to make the most of an unusual circumstance. Another set of students is experiencing the so-called hybrid, a form of learning that combines traditional classroom experiences with online instruction.
How do teens feel about their academic experience in 2020?
In truth, it runs from content and optimistic to extremely disappointed, frustrated, and exhausted.
One teen said she felt relieved to go back to online school. She focuses better at home and feels she will learn more. She is finding ways to create her own social experiences (safely, of course) and meet her friends for studying, lunch, or beach time.
Another teen said the online school is “OK” but it is much harder to communicate with teachers and learning from home is distracting! She is concerned about how all the changes to ACT, SAT, and AP testing will impact her chances to get into college.
No matter how your teen is experiencing her new normal, one thing is certain:
She will get through this!
Since summer, I’ve been coaching all my teen clients on ways to accept and thrive during this unprecedented time. They are learning how to broaden their perspective of online and hybrid schooling, create their own memorable school experiences, and work through the variety of emotions that are triggered by change.
What teens are learning now will set the tone for the rest of their school year and beyond.
“The beginning is the most important part of the work.” – Plato.
Four Ways To Help Your Teen During This Challenging Time.
Whether it’s the beginning of the day or the beginning of a new school year, here are some ways to support your teen in laying a strong foundation for a new start:
1. Help Your Teen Broaden Her Perspective.
Always empathize with your teen and validate what she is feeling. Then, look for ways to positively frame her school experience. Point out the benefits of online learning:
- Increased independence
- More flexibility
- Greater control over her learning environment and schedule
2. Creating (or recreating) Memorable Experiences.
It’s hard for teens to recreate an experience like a graduation or school dance, but they can create new social experiences. Provide your teen opportunities for connection. Socially distanced outdoor activities or volunteering can help create a sense of community. Ask your teen in what ways she would like to interact and engage with others.
3. Help Your Teen Manage Her Moods.
Have regular check-ins. Talk about how you’re feeling and provide your teen space to do the same. Acknowledge that there are no clear answers to when or how this will all end. Practice effective coping strategies:
- Talking things through with a friend or professional
- Getting outside
Share those strategies with your teen. Foster self-compassion and emphasize that while this feels like it’s been going on forever, it is temporary and going to change.
4. Get Support.
Both teens and parents benefit from outside support. A person outside the family, learning pod, or quarantine bubble, can provide valuable perspective and helpful resources. Encourage your teen to ask for help and model that you too can do the same.