Welcome to my three-part blog series on returning back to school. This week, I’ll be discussing ways to help your child transition back to school both physically and emotionally. It has been a long year for both parents and children! Usually, back-to-school transitions mean shopping for new clothes and supplies, establishing routines, and managing both excitement and fear. This fall, transition can mean more stress and anxiety because of the shift from virtual schooling to in-person schooling. Here are some tips that I have shared with parents on how to support their children.
Talking about worries and fears
Some children express their worries verbally while others might not. It is important to explore what fears your child might have about returning to school. Keeping the communication open is key to help them process and relieve their anxiety. Common worries that have come up lately are fears of getting sick, that their friends might not remember them, or starting a new grade at a new school. Try validating their feelings by listening to their concerns without jumping into problem-solving.
Prepare for uncertainties and be flexible
If this past year has taught any of us anything, it would be showing us our resourcefulness and the ability to adapt to uncertainty. Prepare your child for possible uncertainties that might come up once school starts. They might not see the same peers return to in-person school, their school might not look the way it used to, and the addition of new procedures. Discuss with them that each family has to make decisions that is best for their family, so they might not see all their peers at school. As a parent, it is also important to remain flexible and model that flexibility for your child. There is always a chance that things will not go according to plan.
Slowly rebuild a routine
Since the quarantine has started, children have adapted to different sleeping schedules, mealtimes, and breaks. Try slowly building up to a routine similar to what they had before quarantine. Perhaps pushing up their bedtime, and waking up at a consistent time everyday whether it’s a virtual school day or in-person school day. Understand that your child may take some time to adjust to these new routines.
Know that every child has their own timeline
The most important tip is to be patient with your child. Some children might be able to jump right back into regular schooling, but some might have a hard to re-adjusting. Their grades might not go back to where it was before the pandemic or remain the same from virtual learning. Expect some pushback and pleading to do virtual learning again as they face challenges at school. This transition is just as emotional as it is physical. Your child could be filled with a variety of emotions ranging from excitement to fear or frustration.
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