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To School Or Not To School

To School or Not To School

The difficult decisions of in-person vs remote learning during the pandemic

By David A. Morris, LCSW

decisions - new directions counseling blogDid you ever picture being engulfed by a Pandemic? It’s hard to imagine making school decisions during this unprecedented time. The stress and uncertainty can have its toll on parents. Check out our tips to guide you from your decision-making process to parental self-care:

Consider All Needs  |  Control What You Can  |  Be A Decision Maker  |  Communicate Openly Your Decisions  |  Renew Your Emphasis on Self Care  |  Plan Ahead

Consider All Needs

Your child has many needs. During this stage of quick-phase development, it’s necessary to address their social, emotional, and intelligence needs. For some, this means in-person learning. For others, this means, remote learning with built-in opportunities for interactions outside of school. As a parent, think of your child’s needs and how to meet them creatively.

A parent has needs as well. Achievement, success, connection to others, and space pepper our parenting needs landscape. If possible, look to address at least one of your needs per week. This boundary setting can help reduce resentment and increase energy.

Control What You Can, Release the Rest

AA and Alanon incorporate an important serenity prayer/mantra; loosely summarized as “grant me the peace to accept what can’t be changed, give me courage to change what can be, and the wisdom to know the difference”.

If you notice your pain is slowly turning to suffering, consider you might be trying to change something out of your control. Conversely, if you notice relief from your strain and stress, you may have just made a change within your control. Find wisdom to know the difference through your friends, your pastor, your family members, and those whom support you.

Be A Decision Maker

Getting ready for this obtuse school year will require many decision-making points. We already are bombarded with uncertainty and disorganization. Work with your partner, decide what decision is better and make that decision! Our natural reaction is to pick an All or Nothing approach. Full avoidance OR immediate decision without facts. Find the middle ground, gather the facts, identify what can be controlled, be kind, then make the decision that will be better for your family and those around you.

ready-for-school decisionsCommunicate Openly Your Decisions and Needs

Share the picture with your children. Spare them the nitty gritty details, but have them engaged in the process. Check on their needs and wants. Let them know the decisions being made and why. Validate their feelings of frustration, anxiety, and need to gain control.  Affirm their safety, remind them of the precautions and quell their concerns.

In addition, communicate with your support system. Family, friends, teachers, administrators, and community relationships all want to talk. Share your decisions openly. Prepare for disagreement. Accept another’s position and encourage the acceptance of yours.

Finally, find a few trusted, like-minded friends. It is draining to always accept counter opinions; there are times to connect with those who unconditionally support you.

Renew Your Emphasis on Self Care

Consider these questions as you define and plan to care for yourself:

  1. What do I need today? – steer clear of accomplishments and focus on needs (e.g. I need time and space vs. I need to finish the laundry)
  2. Can I carve out 20 minutes out for myself? – it may not be perfect but time for yourself is valuable
  3. Who can help me? – don’t do this on your own, engage others around you for help
  4. Can I make my dream, a reality? – yes, a hike to an Icelandic waterfall is amazing, but what about your local park to start? Wish your favorite restaurant was open? – how about learn to cook a new meal at home?

Plan Ahead

There is a good chance, whatever decision you have made will be disrupted. It is important to make the decision to create a solid foundation. It is equally important to accept that change is inevitable. This fall is uncharted territory. Have a few back up plans including:

  • – utilizing grandparents
  • – contacting extended family
  • – checking on community resources
  • – brainstorming with neighbors
  • – advocating for your needs


At New Directions Counseling, we understand there’s no easy or correct answer. If you need additional help to cope with stress, anxiety or hopelessness, please contact us for an appointment at 724.934.3905