The New Back to School

by Nikke Soni

It’s back to school in the Fox Valley and for many families the school year is looking very different. In person schooling, hybrid classes, virtual learning, and homeschooling are all options that various families are pursuing. For those families who find their students at home for the first time, there are many resources here in the Fox Valley to assist you with your educational endeavors.  

Our local libraries have many resources for any parents who are homeschooling or looking for supplemental educational materials and experiences. The Appleton Public Library (APL) successfully provided many virtual programs this summer for all ages and will continue with a virtual format this fall.  Virtual Live Storytimes, programs, and clubs will provide educational, free, and fun activities for your family. My son participated in the Virtual Streamteam this summer and the activities provided in our take-home box kept him busy all day long. This was our favorite program at the library, and we were able to have an interactive (utilizing Zoom) and hands-on experience from home.    

If you are looking for a handy way to provide reading materials related to curriculum or just for fun, you can utilize the APL Book Pack service. You can simply call or fill out an online form and they will assemble a book pack that contains approximately 15-30 age- and level-appropriate items selected by their literature specialists. With curbside pickup, this can save families dozens of hours trying to select materials themselves. 

The Neenah Public Library (NPL) is providing three varieties of Take and Create kits for ages 2 to 19 years old. These can be picked up in person or with their curbside pickup and instructional videos to assist you at home. It is great to have a curated and prepped educational project ready to use at home

There are also a wide variety of Parent/Teacher resources at the NPL. From their Early Literacy Play and Learn totes for ages 2 to 8, caregiver packages, homeschool resource binders, and early literacy magazines and materials with producible pages and Parent/Teacher support guides, the NPL and other local libraries have many resources to make your at-home learning experience or supplemental learning experience easier.

Bubolz Nature Preserve is continuing their homeschool bimonthly drop-off program for ages 5 to 12 starting September 8. The classes are based on a season and will be outdoors. This program is designed to supplement science curriculum and taught by knowledgeable naturalist and volunteers. Getting outside is a must for families that will find themselves at home this fall. 

It’s disappointing to have so many events and traditions cancelled this year. Fortunately, we live in an area where many activities can be socially distanced. Apple picking, fall fun at the farms, and holiday events at our nature areas all provide safe, outdoor fun. Be sure to check out some of your favorite libraries, museums, businesses, parks and recreation departments, and nature areas for their up to date events coming this fall. There are a plethora of resources, activities, and events that are free or low cost in our area to help us get through this unusual fall and school year.