The pandemic caused an upheaval in so many areas of life. You might have had to work remotely for the first time and simultaneously had your school aged children at home and possibly your spouse as well. You know how difficult it can be to uproot everything you know just to stay afloat.
Unfortunately, millions of children across the country had to experience the same thing as a result of COVID-19. Most schools closed their doors and switched to online learning or hybrid learning throughout the length of the pandemic. Kids became familiar with Zoom meetings and taking tests online rather than seeing their friends every day and enjoying the in-school experience.
Now there’s a light at the end of the tunnel with the pandemic and children are going back to school in person. While that’s a great thing, the transition might not be completely smooth for you or your kids.
So, what can you do to make sure it is?
Have Open Conversations
Talking with your children about what to expect and going over their concerns can make a big difference. Tailoring your conversations to be age-appropriate is the key.
For example, if you have a child in preschool, you might consider talking to them about how this school year might look a bit different. Desks might be farther apart, they might not be able to work in groups and they might not get the chance to hug their teacher. They might not remember much about what school was like before, so as long as you let them know what to expect, the transition will be easier for you and them.
If your children are older, ask them what they are worried about. Asking what their friends are talking about can be an option for gaining insight into your own child’s thoughts. Talk about the challenges of the previous year and how online learning affected them. Talk about the things they are looking forward to. Stress the positives of getting back to normal and it won’t take them long to look forward to it. If you can get them excited about starting school in person again the transition will be much smoother.
Validate Their Emotions
No matter your child’s age, don’t brush off their concerns. Even though the pandemic seems to be fading, it’s not unreasonable for your child to still be worried about things. Remember, their world was flipped upside down too. They spent a year away from teachers, friends and any sort of normalcy. So instead of just telling them that everything will be okay, or assuring them that they don’t need to worry, take the time to listen. Let them know you understand how they feel, and that those feelings are valid. From there, you can work on problem-solving solutions together.
Create a Daily Routine
Children need comfort and reassurance, especially when it feels like everything has changed and so much is uncertain. If your child is going back to school in person, you can provide some extra comfort by establishing a daily routine for them. It can be the same as it was when they previously went to school in person or it can be something new.
The routine might include things like waking up at the same time each day, eating breakfast, taking a shower, and reading for ten minutes before heading to school. Find something that works for your child and for you. When they know what to expect at home, they’ll start to look forward to it and feel calmer as they head back to school. Going back to school in person should be an exciting event for your children. Implementing the above tips should make it easier on everyone in the family.