Back-to-School Success for Students (& Parents) in 2020

Back-to-School Success for Students (& Parents) in 2020

It’s back-to-school time. And this year is certainly shaping up to be different than any other. Planning is challenging and the news we receive continues to change. Just when you think you are ready to go, you learn you have to pivot to another option. Below are some tips to build success during this year, not just for your student but for parents, too.

Designate a workspace

Make sure that, to the best of your ability, you create a designated work area. Ensure that it is clear of distractions and as quiet as possible. With limited living space, it isn’t always to do this, we know. And, knowing where one can work and have it ready helps promote attention and commitment to academics.

Create a routine

If your student will be learning remotely, follow a schedule similar to what would be if they were going into school. Encourage them to get up, get showered and get dressed. These three things help to prepare for the day. Encourage them to work away from their bed and in the designated work area.

Do what works

Everyone is going to have an opinion about your decisions. Do what works for you and your family. You do not have to do what everyone else is doing if it does not fit with your values. Filter out the noise and make choices based on your family discussions.

Be gentle and validate

This is a challenging time for children and adults alike. Be gentle with one another. Validate their frustrations and concerns (and yours as well). Have open conversations about how everyone is doing and take the time to really listen to the answers. If you see a significant change in your child’s behavior, don’t be afraid to reach out to professionals for help and guidance.


Things are changing faster than you can plan. Do some problem solving before the problems become untenable. Practice wearing a mask for extended periods of time with your young children. Talk with your older children about how they will manage different things at school. Encourage open and honest discussion. Also, be prepared for things to change. Now more than ever, we have to be psychologically flexible. This isn’t easy for everyone. Expect some pushback and emotional reactions to change, and help your student work through it.

Ask work for flexibility

For yourself, ask your workplace for some flexibility for yourself as well. Circumstances with your students could cause you to ask for some support and change at work. Ask for what you need and stand up for it when needed.

Find the fun

It’s going to be weird for a while. As a result, it’s important to find enjoyment and fun where you can. Set aside time for fun. Be sure to take breaks when they appear (especially on the weekend). Breaks are good for all of us, as they help us recharge, relax and prepare for what’s to come.

The school year always comes with challenges. This year is no different; those challenges are just more complex. The more prepared you can be heading into the start of it, the greater the likelihood of success for your student and your family.

Authored by: Dr. Jennifer Hartstein