Every Fall, there is a rite of passage for kids aged preschool through college which involves preparing to go back to school. Usually, this means gathering school supplies, going school clothes shopping, registering for sports and activities, as well as Meet the Teacher Night or visiting the school before the start date which are usually part of back to school help.
This year with Covid-19, it is all different. We are all feeling a different amount of stress and so many new decisions to make. Do you have the choice of hybrid, in-person classes or online? Or was the decision made for you? The start of this school year feels very different.
The worries and fear of the unknown are real. Parents and children may feel nervous about contracting Covid-19 at school. They worry about social distancing and mask mandates. The information from the schools and state is continuously shifting and changing information as well as the reopening process and protocols. This definitely leads to more feelings of worry and uncertainty.
While levels of anxiety and stress may be high, parents play an influential role in helping children cope, encouraging a positive back-to-school transition and helping to reduce children’s anxiety and worries. These mini yoga brain breaks can help.
Enjoy the Following Back to School Help and Tips
Have Honest Discussions
It is important to sit down and really talk to your child. It doesn’t matter their age. Spend some time talking about how things may be different. As them if there are are specific things they are worried or concerned about, and talk these through with them.
Talk to them about what they can do to stay safe such as hand washing, using hand-santizer, keeping their distance from others avoid touching their face.
Get a Routine in Place
This is very important for children! Kids thrive on routines in place because they know what to expect and they feel like they have control.
Even if school is online; continue to have your children wake up at the same time and follow a morning routine such as eating breakfast, brushing teeth and getting dressed for the day.
If your children are headed to school in person. Plan on certain places to keep masks easily accessible such as on hooks by the door. Have children help prepare the night before with homework completed and packed into a backpack, lunch prepared and in the fridge, and school clothes laid out. These simple steps will save so much time in the morning and really help with building a routine.
Children ages 3 and older are also old enough to have chores and to contribute positively to the family. Chores such as putting away dishes from the dishwasher, watering plants, walking the dog, taking garbage out, all help build responsibility and community within a family.
Establish a bedtime routine as well. These structures will help create rhythm and flow to the days. Try these yoga and mindfulness tips that can be done together as a family.
Focus on the Positive
It’s important to acknowledge children’s worries, but parents also need to encourage their children to focus on the things that are positive and they are forward to.
Before school starts, you can ask, “What are you looking forward to about school school?” or “What have you missed about school?” Once school starts, you can ask, “What was something great that happened today?”
At dinner, we like to take turns sharing something positive about our day. With so much negativity going on, it is important to truly be intentional about looking for the positive.
Be a Role Model
Children are watching and looking to us. They are noticing how we are responding to the changes and new challenges. Children even pick up on the nonverbal with our facial expressions.
It’s OK for us to feel uncertain and worried. However, as much as possible, try to model calm and confident attitudes about returning to school for your child and use cheerful, positive messages.
Please take the time to care for your own well-being and mental health. Be kind to yourself and one another. Seek out help if you needed. You are not alone. Make time for what makes you happy.
While this year’s back to school is different, we can help children feel optimistic by listening to their worries, helping them feel confident by establishing routines and coping strategies. Our kids need us to lead the way for a successful back-to-school transition and to develop the lifelong skills they will need in the future.