.ORGs Have Got Your Back—to School

by Malleana Ruffin, Social Media Manager, Public Interest Registry

With COVID-19 still playing a big part in our lives, back to school looked different for many this year. Some students returned to classrooms, but many others remained virtual. Either way, with hand sanitizer, masks, and Zoom competing with backpacks, number two pencils, and composition books as school supplies, it’s easy to get stressed out, tech-ed out, and burnt out. Don’t worry: .ORGs have your back to school solutions for students, teachers and parents.

Delivering for Students:

It’s very hard to focus on schoolwork with an empty stomach or backpack. 

  • According to www.nokidhungry.org, one in four U.S. kids could face hunger this year, due to the coronavirus. No Kid Hungry’s emergency grants have brought nearly $27 million in emergency relief to hundreds of schools and community groups, serving 10.8 million meals a day thus far during the pandemic. Through their free meal finder, families can enter their addresses to find no-cost, healthy meals in their communities. 
  • Redirecting some of their efforts, www.visiontolearn.org, a non-profit that provides free glasses for low-income students, has adjusted its mobile clinics to provide meals and household items. They are also continuing to process lost and broken glasses requests and mail out glasses to students who received a prescription prior to the pandemic. 
  • The Kids in Need Foundation (KINF), www.kinf.org, offers U.S. kids school supplies free of charge. The kit includes three folders, two notebooks, pencils, crayons, markers, erasers, and an uplifting note, all in a new backpack. Did you know that more than 7,000,000 U.S. kids don’t have a computer at home? In partnership with Chipotle, KINF also is working to provide technology to under-resourced students. You can learn more about the initiative here.

Enabling Effective Lessons 

Teachers are faced with challenges this year they never could have imagined back when they were in school. The classroom has transformed in myriad of ways, and .ORGs are providing tools and information to help teachers adapt:

  • For information on how to return to the classroom healthfully, the American Pediatric Association’s www.healthychildren.org offers guidelines for in-person teachers on how to set up desks, manage lunchtime, encourage hand washing, and enforce social distancing.
  • For those still on virtual platforms, organizations like Educators for Excellence, www.e4e.org is an asset. Founded by public school teachers, it brings together more than 30,000 educators to give all students access to a quality education. Their comprehensive list of COVID-19 resources is here. 
  • Learning online can pose added challenges for the nearly seven million U.S. children who have disabilities such as dyslexia or autism. Understood, www.understood.org, offers a wide range of information for educators to help all kids thrive, and the National Council of Learning Disabilities, www.ncld.org, offers this guide to improve the online learning experience for kids with disabilities. 

Keeping Things On-Track Online 

Creating a schedule, helping kids stay engaged, and parents stay sane top the list of “things to do” while learning during the pandemic. 

  • A great step is to help the whole family remember what to do and when by creating a weekly planner. You can use this activity from www.pbs.org to create one! 
  • Arts education is an important component to learning. In fact, students who study art are four times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement, according to www.dosomething.org. But, how do you encourage your budding Georgia O’Keefe or Michelangelo from your own home? The Art and Creative Materials Institute, www.acmiseals.org, offers grade-level appropriate arts activities, along with the materials needed and instruction enabling children to express their feelings through art or showing them how to make a sketchbook to fill with drawings.
  • For some kids, the pandemic is affecting their mental health, making learning difficult. The National Child Traumatic Stress Network, www.nctsn.org, offers this guide to helping families cope with their kids’ anxiety and trauma. And the National Association of School Psychologists offers this reference for families.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Life is a succession of lessons which must be lived to be understood.” In addition to reading, ‘riting, and ‘rithmatic, today’s school children are getting life lessons that will  not only influence their education but shape them as people. By supporting students, parents, and teachers, .ORGs are doing their part to keep those lessons positive. Going back to school—in whatever form it takes—is always a fresh start. We hope these resources make the transition easier, and that this academic year is a healthy, happy, and successful one for your family.