Tips from Our Parent Community

Communications Office

We asked and Post Oak parents answered! Read comments from our recent community surveys about what families are doing at home and advice they would offer others during this time.

High School

We involved our students in coming up with our new family schedule. It's structured during the family activities of morning workouts together at the park (6:00 a.m.), breakfast and dinner, including help with meal preparation and chores, as well as game night/movie night.

Eliminate distractions and help students with scheduling what is due and by when.

Work on jigsaw puzzles.

It’s a great time to foster a cat or dog. 😊 We are fostering from Houston Pets Alive (2 moms and 8 puppies)!

Eat well and enjoy being with your family. Reconnect and enjoy the great company.

a high school student prepares a meal

Follow rules recommended so we can all get back to work. Stay busy. Do the things around your home you never got to do because your job got in your way, and, most importantly, connect with your loved ones, whether in person, by phone, Zoom, etc.

Encourage your MS or HS student to reach out to teachers if they need some explanation and to reach out to their peers.

Just try to keep your own sanity so you can help your kids. I have taken a drive just to get a new view and some space away from everything!

Find your own rhythm. Find the blessing of connecting with your teen.

Middle School

My child is “in-class” in the same area that I am working from home. It helps both of us to help support each other in our work as co-workers in the same space.

Our kids came up with this new schedule of getting up early to go to the park before it gets crowded—we love it. It structures the rest of the day. We also rely on the school class/lunch schedule. We have moved the younger student out of the bedroom into the living room with a desk/table where he does his school work, away from his bedroom, which helps his mind get into “school mode.”

Build in a minimum of 15 minutes a day of exercise three days a week, and two days a week of 30/60 minutes of some type of exercise. Some examples: bike ride, running, stairs safely, yoga, walking the dog, helping around the house with vacuuming, washing clothes. 

Set alarms for class times, have your student in their chair ready five minutes before the start time. Keep the planner going; talk with your student about their upcoming schedule and the past day's events.

Enjoy the time together. It’s quite the silver lining on this situation. 

a family writes on their fence

Stay flexible.

Our foster pets have been very rewarding. Houston Pets Alive could use more foster families. And rotating movie night has been fun.

Get a 1-gigabit internet circuit. :) 

Lower your expectations. Give your child time and space to process all that is happening. Spend family time together. Try to focus on the moment and worry less about the future. Trust your child’s ability to continue learning in any circumstance. Focus on connection and relationships.

Be kind to yourself and lower expectations. This is a unique opportunity to connect with your family.

Elementary

Parents need to take care of their mental and emotional health first, or else everyone will be unhappy.

Family time together has been a huge silver lining for us. Also, we’ve done less “book work” and more hands-on learning. One fun thing was calculating the speed of an RC car in mph. Just needed a tape measure, stopwatch, and a lesson on converting units from ft/sec. Also, our backyard fence is our new mural canvas.

Do what you can regarding school work with your child. Your mental well-being is a priority.

Keep active outside. My child does best and sleeps better when we are active several times per day. We are taking nature walks and using Inaturalist to learn more about the plants, insects, and trees—it is encouraging them to observe and slow down to see what is in our world.

A little fresh air and exercise (for both parents and children) help a lot.

Don’t expect the same process and results that your kid would have had if school was open. Enjoy your time together with your children. They will be forever grateful to see you happy and enjoying long times of togetherness with them and the whole family. Find moments for connecting with your own feelings, and don’t judge them. Stay with your feelings and understand them, why they are here now with you (they are present for a reason—to help you know yourself ). You have the power to change your thoughts and beliefs.

Adjust expectations and let the kids choose what they want to work on.

Create practical life work projects at home, e.g. painting a room, mulching the yard. Give yourself grace and time to adjust. Get outside in nature in the morning.

Online interaction (FaceTime, Minecraft collaboration, etc.) with their friends that we have previously significantly limited has become a critical outlet for social engagement. That is so important for our children; it's not a good substitute for direct interaction in normal times, but in these times it really helps to make social-distancing a little less socially isolating.

My main tip would be to have a daily talk about how fortunate each family is and discuss positives about sharing time together, having resources to continue learning, explore subjects, hobbies and more that there may not ordinarily be time to do, etc. It’s easy to start feeling despair or self-pity, and helping our children through this time also helps us keep things in perspective.

Take one day at a time. 

an Elementary student relaxes in a hammock

We have enjoyed reaching out to others on zoom calls for our children and to our adult friends satisfying our need for human interaction. We have found taking many walks/bike rides together gives us an appreciation for life itself. A constant reminder that we are telling ourselves is that comparison is the thief of joy; finding our rhythm in each moment (because this truly is a moment-to-moment thing) lets us be at ease and enjoy each other. And finally, we have found asking questions at the end of each day (How was it today? What worked? What didn't work? What should we do differently tomorrow? What should we do again tomorrow?) is helpful. It engages our children and offers support to all of us. And forgiveness when something isn't working. One more thing, we are sticking to bedtimes and getting dressed in the morning. We are all in this together and long to see everyone soon.

For us, using the daily worksheet where our child builds his goals for the day is key. Our daughter doesn't go to Post Oak but we started having her do this exercise and it has made the days go smoother. 

This is the time for meals that take forever to prepare and books that you’ve been meaning to read. Write letters to friends and family, even the ones who live in town. Talk around the table every night about what’s working and what’s not working. What went well; what was not so great?

Try to have fun with it! And give yourself some grace because we aren’t Montessori teachers.

We start the day with our child writing down daily goals and have him choose activities from several areas of learning. We incorporate art, music, and PF every day to help keep him motivated and keep his attention. His school day can end when he meets all of his goals, which is usually around 2:00 to 2:30. Keeping a regular routine has been very helpful.

I have created a binder, and in the front is a list of 20 to 25 learning goals. They need to choose 3 to 5 a day. It has helped them immensely. It is a list by subject. They have all the material they need—books, printed lessons, etc. They also have an equal amount of online versus offline options. It helps the day move smoothly. We are not on a time schedule because for us that is not realistic. The schedule keeps sliding, and so it is better if we set goals for the day.

Take time for exercise or meditation as a family.

Elementary students outside with a hula hoop

We’ve tried to incorporate hands-on science experiments (with lab write-ups) to try and keep things interesting.

Be kind to yourself. 

I shifted my work-from-home schedule to start at 6 a.m., so I get a few productive work hours before the kids come downstairs to begin their day. Also, we kept two work periods for them just like at school, with lunch and recess midday.

Relax about academics. Your child will not “fall behind.” Right now, the most important thing is human connection and keeping our relationships strong.

Expanding WiFi capability in our home has helped tremendously. Daily walks and physical exercise is great! We are working on home organization projects, cleaning out closets, and doing philanthropy work to fill our days. Game nights have been wonderful!

Primary

Create a flexible schedule, and know that it could change daily. Enjoy your time together and don't try and put too much in one day. Spend time outside. Teach your kids life skills (laundry, dishes, sweeping, cleaning, yard work, etc.).

Enjoy your children, and don’t worry about things that really don’t matter that much if you put them in perspective. Be kind to yourself and try to be receptive to everyone including yourself. 

Follow your child's lead instead of trying to teach her/him, and make yourself available. It is quite hard, but re-arranging work hours to be available to your child is important.

One breath at a time.

Look for the organic opportunities for learning that are all around—get outside and use nature as your classroom. Don't feel tied to completing a certain number of activities—your home is a different environment than the classroom, and perhaps that means learning will take a different shape, too.

With both a Lower Elementary and a Primary student, my kids seem to do best when they are working together. I've tried to pair them up when possible to do work. Example: the Primary lesson called “float or sink.” They loved this exercise. I had my LE student write down the results of this experiment as a way to incorporate handwriting practice. I've also tried asking each child to give the other a lesson. 

Be wary of too much screen time! Make sure there is a good balance of breaks for children, and encourage outdoor play.

a Primary student plays with a hose

Preparing the workspaces and letting the environment take the lead has made things easier inside.

The most important thing you can do for your children during these stressful times is to provide a loving and safe home through this experience. It is okay to bend rules a bit, let children stay up later, or let go of some expectations. You haven’t parented through a pandemic before. Be gentle on yourself. Love your children. Know that you are enough.

Since my daughter can’t read yet, we made pictures of activities we do, so she can choose what she wants for the day. She really likes planning her schedule every morning.

This situation is new to all of us. We are all leaning in this new normal, and it’s OK to not have the answers for our kids. I think they appreciate our honesty and that we tell them we don’t know everything at this time. Keep the TV off, enjoy time together even if you’re doing your own work independently.

Plan your next day the night before with activities, snacks, and meals.

Prioritize mental health over academic lessons. Keeping routine. Help in the kitchen. Kids are resilient and will catch up on schoolwork.

Be honest with kids about what’s going on (to an extent). Try not to appear stressed in their presence. Reduce the amount of information looked at online.

Don’t compare yourself to other families. Kids will have more screen time than you care to admit. They’ll eat worse than your usual standard. The family unit will fight more because we are in constant company for the unforeseen future. Take this virus seriously, there are those who are high risk and can die, even young children. Asthma and other serious medical issues can be disguised in a superficially healthy-looking child. Share lots of funny gifs and memes.

Find the silver lining. I am so grateful to have Montessori children who are independent and want to do things for themselves. I’m also grateful my children aren’t overwhelmed with work and expectations to submit work by a certain time.

Young Children's Community

Enjoy your children and be open to learn from them and from this extraordinary experience we are living worldwide.

Be gracious with yourself! Do the best you can, and that’s good enough.

It is a great opportunity for us as a family to take advantage of all the activities and videos that teachers share with us. Great tips, great advice. My child really enjoys seeing his friends’ faces and teachers reading stories or giving lessons.

Take it one day at a time and don’t aim for perfection and be flexible.

a toddler stretching

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