Back To School or Back To The Computer?

Little girl concentrates while using microscope.

Schools are beginning to make important decisions about learning environments. While the American Academy of Pediatrics has stated that “children learn best when physically present in school”, they have tempered that with the caveat that “each community will have to consider the local spread of COVID-19” and the safety of students, teachers, and staff.

For many parents, the idea of virtual learning is alarming for multiple reasons. Parents may have jobs that require their physical presence. Affordable child care services may not be available. Many parents may feel completely overwhelmed by the responsibility of making sure their children are focused, engaged and learning.

For many other parents, the idea of in-person learning is also alarming. Parents of children with chronic diseases may have already decided to opt out and homeschool their children. There are also parents who are immunocompromised or suffer from chronic illnesses that cannot risk being exposed to COVID-19 through their children.

Alzein Pediatrics is here to offer you reassurance – both for your parenting decisions and for your ability to help your children learn. Whatever you decide, whatever course you take, whatever changes you make to that decision or course over the next several months – we support you. We know that making the decision is difficult, but you are doing what is ultimately best for your unique family situation.

We recommend the following:
• Join your town or neighborhood social media parenting groups for support and a continual stream of information.
• Follow your child’s school’s social media accounts so you can verify the latest closures, openings and updates.
• Follow the American Academy of Pediatrics on social media to get the best advice on child health and how COVID-19 could affect your family.
• Follow Alzein Pediatrics on Facebook for continued guidance.
• Reach out to us if your child is feeling anxious about Covid-19. We can schedule an in-person visit or telemedicine visit to talk through any concerns.

The absolute best way to help your child learn is to make sure you’re in friendly communication with your child’s teachers. They are your best resource! Request a private Zoom session to get your child one-on-one instruction when needed. Touch base often to make sure that progress is being made with in-person learning and to be informed quickly if the situation changes.

Whether your child is a virtual or in-person learner, we also have a jumping off point to help you be the best teacher or teacher’s aide your child could have – and it all revolves around the one thing you do every day – cooking and eating! It’s an amazing gateway to learning.

When meal planning, discussing proper nutrition and a balanced diet can lead to discoveries about which vegetables are higher in which nutrients and why those nutrients are important to a healthy body. Research what calcium actually is, where it’s found in nature and what else it can be used for. Go on a virtual trip to discover the countries where certain foods were found or developed and research the history of the people who lived in those areas. Talk about farming, why different birds lay differently colored eggs, whats in a seed and why it sprouts and grows into corn, peas and beans. You’ve just covered biology, zoology, geology, history and social studies!

Give your child a budget to grocery shop, teaching them money management. Ask them to figure the quantities needed of each item. Talk about the recycling opportunities of the packaging. Research the psychology of marketing messages on the packages and signs and in advertising.

When actually doing the cooking, measuring is math! Teach fractions, addition, multiplication, division and subtraction as you double or halve recipes and ingredients. Watch the series “Cooked” by Michael Pollan which explores the science and engaging history of fire, water, air and earth in relation to cooking. You can also have a lively discussion about the types of food you might be willing to try (burnt lizard, anyone?). Research why baking soda and vinegar react in a storm of bubbles and fizz and why butter gives food a different crisp than olive oil.

Trace the movement of food through your child’s body to learn how nutrients are absorbed, what organs are involved in digestion and what’s actually in the waste products that result at the end. Cooking and eating will open up a wild world of learning for your children!

However school begins in your district this year, we know it’s not going to be easy for anyone, especially our children. Kids thrive best in a predictable, stress-free environment and that won’t be possible until COVID-19 is behind us. We are here to help you and your child stay positive, stay healthy, and keep growing in wonderful ways.

Do you have questions or need support? Please call Alzein Pediatrics at 708-424-7600. Our virtual appointments are perfect for a consultation about your child’s health, their upcoming learning environment and any guidance you may need.

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