Sunday 20 September, 2020

12 Things parents may have to buy for 2020 School Year post-COVID

Mother and child working on a desktop computer. (Source: NJ.com)

Mother and child working on a desktop computer. (Source: NJ.com)

With the possibility of online schooling staying with us for some time post-COVID and schools offering up blended online and physical attendance options, Back-to-School shopping for the academic year 2020-2021 could look a lot different.

And by diffierent, unfortunately, Loop Lifestyle also means, a lot more costly.

Before, parents' biggest and most expensive concerns were school uniforms, shoes, games shoes, games clothes, stationery and books. But now, with some children still yet to get a smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop computer to get into their online classes, parents will need to buy these gadgets and more.

No one wants their child or ward being left behind because they lack the gadget, but what some parents may have forgotten or not even considered yet, is that if they don't make the home-class comfortable as well, they may end up with bills and expenses from the chiropractor, physical therapist, occupational therapist, ophthalmologist and even massage therapist in the long run. 

It's time to start considering your child's home classroom set-up, and doing so seriously will take some coins.

Here are 12 things parents may need to buy to help their child succeed in this new normal without wrist pains, backaches, headaches, squinting, and bad posture.

1. Study desk

The dining room table was good for a time, but unless one corner will be the designated classroom, it's not sufficient for a year of work. The bed is also not a good longterm option either, sorry!

2. Computer chair

It would be best to have a computer chair to accompany the study desk but with most of these chairs running upwards of BBD $400 (USD $200) locally, you may just give your child a chair that is comfortable for their height and hopefully it also provides back support at the same time.

3. Lamp

A reading lamp or standing lamp in their rooms or by their study desk would also be helpful.

4. External mouse

The tablet and smartphone do not have a mouse per se, and the laptop has a built-in one. But for extended hours of use it is recommended that persons use an external mouse - by USB cable or wireless. (Get a mouse padwhile you're at it, one with the gel support for the wrist is best).

5. Keyboard

Same thing as for the mouse, an external keyboard will also allow the child to not keep the devices too close to them. They can set it at a distance on a stand (Oh yea, get a smart phone stand or a tablet stand) or in the case of a laptop, stack it on a book or two to be on eye level, and then they can type on the external keyboard happily from further away. Their eyes and neck will thank you ten-fold.

6. Glasses

If you do not take care, with all the screentime and the small fonts plus the glare from the screens, your child may just have to end up at the ophthalmologist or optometrist. Get their eyes checked in advance and see if they need glasses or find out if there are any recommended anti-glare glasses or screen protectors that the eye specialists can recommend. There is an eye specialist at the polyclinic free of charge for children under age 16 and glasses are free too.

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7. Light bulbs

Some homes still have the yellow fluorescent bulbs and the lighting at night is poor. Invest in some LED bulbs and provide some better natural lighting for your child as he or she completes homework assignments or reads at night.

8. Surge protector

Especially with this being hurricane season, invest in a surge protector. No one wants to spend hundreds of dollars only for an electrical surge to damage the equipment when the power goes out. Get a surge prtector not a power strip! 

9. Printer/Scanner

In many cases, teachers are allowing students to complete their work and then take photos with their tablets or smartphones and submit or 'Turn it in'. The Ministry has not decided on what school will look like from September, but if a teacher is being assessed, he or she may still need to physically grade some work. So in the event that a teacher asks for projects to be dropped off at the school for her or him to mark, parents will need a way to print the work.

10. Sim card

If you get your child a smartphone or a tablet with a sim card slot, you may want to buy a sim card for your child and give your number an ease when your child's friends wish to group chat for hours about a group project. No one swipes out an incoming call quite as fast as a child busy on a tablet or smartphone. It does not matter if the device is theirs or not.

11. Headset

In some cases during Term 3 when students unmuted their mics teachers complained about not being able to hear the children properly. A headset with a microphone will help to reduce this problem. It also stops the child from trying to yell into the device and lets them talk through steps will completing tasks for class such as experiments. It's a multitasker's best friend.

12. Earphones

With some children still not having a quiet dedicated space for online class, it is best if some parents invest in headphones for their child. It would mean that parents can no longer hear the teacher and loudly whispher answers to their child, but it would also mean that teachers can hopefully command their students' attention better this time around in September. Sounds like a win if not a win-win.

Government kindergarten, primary and secondary schooling in Barbados is currently set to resume on Spetember 21, 2020. That is, as of the last official Ministry of Education, Technological and Vocational Training circular issued on August 5.

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