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  • Writer's pictureVicky Keston

Back to School . . . at a Distance

As we wrap up summer, instead of backpacks and lunchboxes, we dig in for more months at home with distance learning. It’s my philosophy to prepare for the potential of a full school year from home, but hope to be pleasantly surprised. With that in mind, my goal for these last weeks centers around optimizing our home setting for kids distanced from their school.

  • Childcare or Work Accommodations. Some of us can work from home, and others work from an office. If you cannot complete your work with your children at home, consider the options, such as a shared caregiver, cooperative, or organized care at a center, which was recently approved by the San Francisco Department of Public Health. I interviewed for this article, summarizing the options. Some parents have asked for a part time or flexible schedule, such as one day off per week to allow for a coop pod with four other families.

  • Learning Space. Many children focus better with an area to learn and to store their school supplies. Desks can range from a small secretary desk to a full sized desk, or even a moving chest with wheels. Organizational supplies can help find and sort pens, pencils, and papers. Whether an annual trip to IKEA, Target, or a stationary supply store, may have deep sales this time of year. Our art cart from IKEA is now also available at the Container Store. We’ve repurposed a cabinet from a local Buy Nothing Facebook group with a little touch up and replacement feet. We love magazine holders for folders, and book ends for keeping shelves organized. 

  • Technology. For kids with Zoom sessions, if your school does not provide a device, consider whether you want a tablet, such as an iPad with an inexpensive Bluetooth iPad, or laptop. Consider your child’s age, computer savviness, and grade level requirements. Assess your internet speed and wifi network, considering the number of people who will be online at the same time, and how old your home, as lathe and plaster walls interfere with signal transfer.

  • Exercise. If you have a backyard, a trampoline can be incredible for cardio. With a deck, kids might study in the sunshine. Or inside an apartment, hanging ladders and swings can help on rainy days. We have taken over much of our garage to gymnastics.

  • Socialization. Most kids need to see friends. If it’s not safe to meet in person, regular video playdates can help. My daughter and her friend play on Prodigy and practice math at the same time. For a little more interaction, in person play dates outdoors with masks can fill that gap, whether a hike or a backyard fun date. We ensure the kids eat outdoors and don’t share food.

Need more help?

Vicky consults with families to help select public and private schools in San Francisco in an environment of non-judgment. Her own children have attended both public and private schools, and she believes that each has unique benefits. Email to learn more about her services.


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