Starting back to school in the middle of a pandemic can create anxiety and fear for parents and kids. Your child may be confused and even tired of dealing with the unknown. Let’s face it – kids and parents both want life to be somewhat normal again.
School is so much more than reading, writing, and arithmetic. It’s also about a child’s health and development. Your child may continue learning remotely or they may be returning to the classroom. The following tips can help you talk to your children about remote learning or returning to the classroom.
Listen to your child – Let your child talk about their frustrations, fears, disappointment, or any other feelings they may have about school (if they will be learning at home or in the classroom). It’s important for kids to express all their feelings and concerns so you can talk about them together.
Confirm your child’s feelings – Let your child know their feelings are important. It’s okay to talk about your own feelings and how hard it is for everyone not to have definite answers about what is coming next. Make sure your child knows you have truly listened to their feelings and concerns. Most importantly let your child know you are going to do your best to help them through this situation.
Brainstorm with your kids – Now that you and your child have talked about how you feel about the new school year, take the time to brainstorm about how you can address their concerns about remote learning or returning to school. You might talk about what worked during the previous school year and what didn’t. Together you can figure out a system on how to tackle the year ahead. Most importantly let your child know you understand this school year will be different. Work with your child as much as you can to address their concerns and make their lives feel as normal as possible.
Schedule regular check-ins – Remember, things can always change. What was working at the beginning of the school year may not be working in two months. If you have regular check-ins and something changes you can catch it before it becomes an issue. Also, remember to check-in with your child’s school. Ask about how your child is doing and ask if there are any changes scheduled remotely or in the classroom. If you know about the upcoming changes, you can prepare your child to make the transition a little easier and avoid stress.
Understand that the pandemic has increased stress and anxiety among children and teenagers. Anything you can do to help reduce your child’s stress and anxiety will help them adjust to the new school year. If you do notice that your child or teenager is acting more anxious than normal or appears depressed, contact your physician or seek help from a licensed therapist. There is nothing to be embarrassed about if your child needs therapy during this time.