How to Prepare Kids for a Unique School Year
Many school districts across the country have had to reassess their plans on how to start the new school year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In March 2020, when news of the pandemic first broke, many schools went to a distance learning format. This fall, many school districts will continue that format as they have opted out of in-person learning at this time as a way to further protect students, families and staff. For many this may be a continued, or even new, challenge to adapt to as it is a different way of schooling.
Whether your child will attend class in-person or in a virtual format, there is no doubt that your child (and you) may have some concerns about starting this school year.
While you can’t answer every question or be prepared for every scenario, the one thing you can do as a parent is to do your best to prepare kids for what’s to come. This may include:
- Listen to their concerns. Kids may be more worried or anxious than you realize. If they are going back to school in the traditional setting, they may be nervous about contracting COVID-19. Speak to them about proper hand hygiene and protective measures such as social distancing to help ease their worries. If they are anxious about schooling from home, reassure them that they have support from you or their teachers. Many teachers can set up virtual meetings or phone calls with parents and the student for extra support. Bottom line is, give your child the opportunity to express their concerns and talk through each one with them.
- Share what you know. As your school district or child’s teacher shares information with you about changes to the school routine, share that information with your child in an age appropriate manner. For example, if schools suddenly reopen but children will need to wear masks, let them know what to expect. If procedures on the school bus, at lunch or during recess will be different when schools reopen, prepare them as best you can for those changes as well. No matter how this unfolds, now is a good time to instill proper hand-washing, disinfecting, and social distancing practices they can take with them if they have to return to in-person classes.
- Prepare them for change. What you share with your child will depend in part on their age and maturity level, but it’s okay to explain that a lot is up in the air right now. Things may start off one way but change over time. Schools may have one plan in place but adapt that plan as they deem necessary.
- Prepare for the school year. Make sure your child has a safe, quiet and comfortable learning environment at home. Do they have the supplies they need such as a computer, notebook paper, etc.? Make sure that they have the tools to help them succeed through virtual learning.
It’s a back-to-school season like none we’ve ever experienced before and it’s okay if you don’t have all the answers for your children or don’t know exactly how to get them ready for this transition. Just be as open as possible and pay attention to signs that your children may be struggling with emotions even if they don’t express their feelings in words. If you do that, you’ll be doing the best you can in a time of uncertainty.
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