First Week of High School 2020 ~ A Mom's Lessons Learned

By Wendy Borges, Assistant Publisher September 16, 2020

Wendy is the mom of two high school students in NH.  One is attending 100% remote, the other is full day in-school.

“Here we go Again…” is the feeling I had heading towards our first week back to school this Fall. It has been a bit of a Groundhog Day moment. After all, being catapulted into remote learning this past Spring, along with so many unknowns of the virus was not easy on any level. Thankfully, beneath that feeling of uncertainty was a resounding voice saying “We’ve done this before!”, “We had a trial run.”, “We can do it again!”.  It is then that I realized that I would hit this new school year head on, but how? I needed to pause and take the time to Reflect, Review and Revamp our past approach to make it work better. What worked and what did not? What did we need to do to be more successful? This process gave me a hopeful reminder that preparedness and attitude make all of the difference. I was reminded that my role as a mother was instrumental to their success and how setting and discussing expectations and ownership on everyone’s part was vitally important.  

Here is what we are doing this second time around:

One size does not fit all - I have a senior and a sophomore. Different genders, personalities, strengths, needs and drives. Our school offered them a hybrid or fully remote model. I felt like it was important to let them voice their opinion on which model they thought worked best for them. Each had very strong opinions. My daughter: “ I need to get out of the house and I need to connect with my teachers. I want to go to school”.  My son - “There is no reason for me to go in, I can do it all online” and “Do you think any of the kids are going to follow the rules?... It isn’t safe”. Since both did relatively well with their grades in the Spring, I let each choose their path. My son is fully remote and my daughter is hybrid - going into school 2-3 days a week.

Setting Expectations: “With great power comes great responsibility", alternatively known as the Peter Parker principle. I sat with each of my kids and set out to discuss what they were responsible for -- after all, I had allowed them to decide their back to school plan. The bottom line: Their class work and homework is theirs and theirs alone. If they need extra help, they need to reach out to their teacher or find the appropriate resource to help them. They will set their own alarms, as I will not wake them up.  They are part of a family and being part of a family means we help support each other and the household. Everyone still does chores.  

Make them own it - We all know that our kids need to deal with their own consequences and feel responsible for their own actions both positive and negative. Learning from their mistakes is an essential part of them becoming confident, capable and successful adults. I have not been great with this in the past. For example; waking them up many times so they do not miss their first class has only led to laziness on their part and resentment on mine. I have made the distinction that if I notice that they have overslept, I will remind them that school starts in 3 minutes and walk away. The same goes for homework, bedtime etc. I will not nag as I am not responsible for their success.

Being organized makes all of the difference - Prior to the start of school, we reviewed and rearranged work spaces and bought a few back to school essentials. I made check lists of the paperwork that I was responsible for and I got it done promptly so it was not hanging over my head. I scanned documents so that back ups could be provided as needed. No need to procrastinate and add additional stress. I filled in the calendar for the on and off days, updated contacts and made note of new resources.  We have set up a mask and thermometer station for easy access.

Playing the supportive role - Feeling supported goes a very long way in life and I am working on finding the balance of being supportive in a healthy productive way. I work hard to make sure my family knows that I am here to support them and just as I can have expectations of them, they can have expectations of me.  On school days I check in and supply them with water and have snacks and lunch available in the fridge for them to grab as needed. I’m prompt and ready to drive and pick up from school and I’m available to listen and play and troubleshoot as needed. We eat dinner together as a family whenever we can.

I set the tone - This has been one of my biggest aha moments of parenting. One that I have to remind myself of over and over again. The way I act and react to situations greatly affects my family's actions and reactions. I need to be the captain - modeling an even keeled, positive, balanced attitude. I need to be organized and matter of fact. My leadership and example makes all of the difference.

Trust - We have had a few conversations regarding trust. It is really of utmost importance that we can trust each other. Trust that we are doing our best in doing our part and fulfilling our responsibilities with school, work and life. That when we are away from home we are doing all that we can to be safe and take precautions to avoid being exposed to Covid-19. This conversation has gone a long way.

I've got this and so do you and so do our kids! Take the time to Reflect, Review and Revamp on your ways of the past. Take control, create systems, have conversations, set expectations and remember your role and the influence you have. Fall of 2020 here we come!