For many young people and their parents as well as the schools and their teachers going back to school involves uncertainty. For parents and teachers there will be ambiguity when it comes to social distancing, wearing masks and possibly more online learning.
Here are 5 tips for getting prepared for the new school year during the pandemic.
Ø Review Local And School District Regulations and Support System:
Are you concerned about whether or not to send your child back to school? I suggest reviewing the local school or school district regulations as that may help to understand the steps the schools are taking to reduce the spread of COVID-19. It can give you points to consider and will help with the decision whether to go back to school in person or continue remote leaning for your child. COVID-19 spread and illness are not the only risks to consider when making decisions about sending children back to school. Schools provide important services and support for children’s academic, social-emotional and mental and physical health, so please reach out to get to know plans or program that have been put in place for further support.
Ø Maintaining Healthy Home Routines And Self-Care:
Also care at home will be important during this time. Maintaining routines as best as possible during change before and after school will help children to know that life will be okay. Such routines involve regular bedtime as well as at least 20min of exercise, healthy meals and downtime away from the phone or computer whilst being able to connect with parents about the possible challenge, kids may experience during this time.
Another great way to help children increase mental and physical well-being besides a regular healthy home routine is to practise deep breathing exercises daily. Breathing becomes shallow when anxiety sets in; deep belly breaths can help children calm down. Setting a reminder to do deep breathing daily will help ease anxiety for the day ahead.
Ø Create Space For Connections:
Be open to whatever feelings come up for your child during this transition and acknowledge what it is feeling. If a child admits to a concern, do not respond, “Oh, don’t be worried, it will be ok, rather confirm what you are hearing: “Yes, I can see that you are worried” and ask further questions and see what solution can be created.
I think what young people could need most right now is to have someone whom they can trust to listen to their questions or who lets them accept their feelings, and be there for them. I think its ok as a parent to not worry so much about knowing exactly the right thing to say but to support in their questions and listen as they may have questions more often to regulate during the transition and calm down. Open the door for discussion for older kids on a regular basis. Try to start a conversation while you are doing an activity together, so you can get to know how your child is doing. Ask a lot of questions to be able to connect.
Also for that, it will be good to take care of yourself first as a parent. You can best help your child when you help yourself. If it helps, you can talk about concerns with friends and relatives; it might be helpful to form a support group to get further help or to be able to share experiences and get other points of views or suggestions.
Ø Create A Plan With Your Child’s Teacher:
Whatever your school’s plans are, it will be important to partner with your kids’ teachers to overcome stressful situation as best as possible. The first step is to establish effective communication with the teachers. Teachers, especially those doing in-person and remote learning, will be under higher stress than usual as well so it will be good to have an open and respectful line of communication to know what the teachers schedule is like if you have any concerns or questions. You can have that effective communication by asking ‘How can I reach out to you if I’m noticing something? It is vital to ask for a clear explanation of the schedule so children and parents can anticipate what’s coming which will create more ease and to be ready to focus on the next task.
Ø Seek More Support If Needed:
Kids who are struggling with learning are likely to need more support and possibly more structure than kids who are learning at an average pace or those who are fast learners. If you’re concerned your child might need extra support in the new school year, make an appointment to talk to their teacher before school starts to get a sense of what you can expect and what possible support can look like. These are challenging discussions that aren’t easy for anyone and many young people might be anxious and uncertain going back to school yet helping these students develop an ability to be ‘comfortable being uncomfortable’ may help to cope with future issues like this one and seeing that it can work. While tolerating uncertainty will be required for families to some degree, communicating frequently and clearly with school professionals and support group about what is planned and what is available can ease the transition returning to school.
I hope you are able to enjoy the last stretch of this summer and can use some of the tips mentioned in this blog to feel as prepared as possible before the start of the new coming school year during Covid 19.