9 Tips on How to Help Your Child Transition Back to School
With so much uncertainty that we are all facing, I'm sure it seems more daunting as parents to reassure your children that all will be ok, as well as finding a way to virtually educate them while maintaining your own careers. As one can imagine, this can heighten the anxiety of any parent or child, especially given that we've all been shut in our homes since March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Here are a few tips to help you ease the stress and give your family necessary separation of work and school from your typical home life.
- Create a totally separate space in the home
Do this for both telework and tele-school activities. Children should not do their school work in their bedrooms, if possible, and their school space should be a quiet and clutter free space. This will help separate school from home.
If your child will be elsewhere during the day, work with their care provider to ensure their space at the facility is suitable to meet your child's individual learning needs.
- Create other boundaries
During the school day, maintain a schedule and allow for "brain breaks" as often as possible within the constraints of teacher instruction times. Use charts and calendars as reminders for children and use bright and bold colors. Allow your child to help you create the schedule and to decorate it. And, when school or work are done, let your child take an extended break before starting on homework.
- Reduce distractions that are in the home
Video games, social media, toys, pets can all be distractors that should be avoided during the school day.
- Work closely with the teachers
Reach out to them directly. If your child has any learning difficulties, investigate all accessibility features offered on your computer. Also connect with your child’s teacher in order to determine if there are any other specialized services that will be available to meet your child’s needs.
If your child has an IEP then reach out to the school if you’ve not heard a plan as to how they will accommodate those services. Review all of the learning materials to ensure that the design of the materials is in line with what your child can do.
- Familiarize yourself with the virtual learning platform
Once you're familiar with the virtual learning platform, you'll be ready to help your child when they need it. If your child does not have computer access or access to the internet, reach out to your school principal or school counselor for assistance.
- Create a small co-op of trusted students and parents
Allow a group of 3-5 children to meet outside for infrequent playdates. Children should be appropriately distanced 6 feet apart and masked if over the age of two. Make sure you know the others with whom your child is interacting and ensure that they are also practicing everyday preventative measures, like frequent hand washing, ongoing cleaning and wearing masks when around others.
- Remain optimistic
As a parent, try to remain optimistic about the situation as best you can for your child.
- Listen to your child's feelings
When your child becomes frustrated, angry or scared, don’t blow them off. Try not to deflect, but listen to them and encourage them to feel. Talk it through and allow them to process. Make sure they know that it's "ok" to be afraid and that it's "ok" to be uncertain. Remind them of what is certain: they are loved. They are cared for. This virus, while scary, is a part of life and discuss ways to protect them. Acknowledge that things right now don't seem fair, but right now it's the way of the world.
- Continue 'normal' activities with your family
Incorporate bike rides, family walks or even bubble play and side-walk play. Have a family homemade pizza night or an outdoor movie night. The possibilities are endless, but plan to do family actives weekly to continue a feeling of normalcy.
I hope that some of these tips will be helpful for you all during these challenging times. Remember to breathe. Remember that it's ok to not be ok. Remember to reach out for help if needed. Seeking assistance doesn't show weakness. It shows determination. Remind your babies that they are strong and capable. Remind yourself that you are strong and more than capable to handle whatever is thrown your way.
If you find yourselves struggling a bit, always reach out to your healthcare provider or your child's pediatrician to give you more assistance. We are here whenever you need us.
Be safe! Be well! Have fun! Have an awesome year!