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Returning to School: How to Best Prepare Your Child

Date Posted:  Monday, October 19, 2020

 

Since school closed back in March, students and parents have been looking forward to returning to school. Finally, we’re able to return to in-person learning in the classroom but school will look different than it did last Spring -- new rules, different classroom setup, social distancing, face masks, etc. So how do we best prepare our students for this new school environment? 

Keep practicing good safety routines:
Over these past seven months, we’ve been building and practicing good safety behaviors such as wearing a mask properly, washing hands and social distancing. Continue to reinforce these behaviors as the first day of school approaches, redirecting children as needed and praising them when they get it right. Kids are often much more flexible and adaptable to new situations. 

Back-to-school traditions:
Many of our family’s daily routines have been impacted by the pandemic, but following a usual back-to-school tradition can help give back some sense of normalcy.  As part of their back-to-school shopping, maybe your children can pick out a new mask that they’ll be excited to wear at school. 

Follow your child’s lead:
Instead of giving your child an extensive list of to-dos when it comes to mask-wearing, hand washing or social distancing, ask them what they should do and let them lead the conversation. You can help fill in any gaps and correct any misinformation they may have. This helps reinforce responsibility and understanding. The same applies when discussing any possible fears. It is expected that after many months away from school, children might be feeling many different emotions like happiness, excitement, worry and/or fear. It’s important to ask open questions about how they’re feeling instead of making leading statements. This way you’ll avoid transmitting any of your own feelings onto them. Validate whatever emotions they do express. If they express fear or worry regarding all the changes, remind them that all of these new routines and rules are there so that together we can help keep everyone safe and that all the adults at school are there to help and support them. Avoid bombarding them with too much information; keep it simple and age-appropriate. Doing regular check-ins (before and after returning to school) can help gauge their emotions. 

Model good & healthy coping behavior:
Children look to parents, teachers and other adults for guidance on how to respond to our surroundings. When we can regulate our emotions in a healthy manner, this helps the children feel safe, secure and supported.

Monitor your child’s transition and reach out for help if concerns arise:
It is natural for you and your child to feel some anxiety and stress with the transition to in-person instruction at school. It’s important that you help your child learn to tolerate a normal level of anxiety -- for example on a scale of 1 to 10, feeling a level 5 of anxiety is natural. Anxiety at this level keeps them alert and cautious enough to stay safe. However, if your child experiences persistent or high levels of anxiety, reach out to one of us for a consultation. Additionally, keep in mind that anxiety could manifest in a variety of ways, such as with sleep disturbances, changes in appetite, somatic complaints and/or other mood changes ( for example irritability, excitability, angry outbursts).

To help support you through this transition back to school, we will be offering bi-weekly meetings with us starting on Thursday, October 29 at 9am. These meetings will start with a brief presentation by us on a mental health related topic and will be followed by a discussion to provide parents an opportunity to discuss any issues of concern. 

Lastly, it’s fundamental to communicate openly and regularly with your child’s teachers and reach out to EB’s counselors, Carla Maia (cmaia@eb.org) and Douglas Gostlin (dgostlin@eb.org), if you have any concerns regarding your child’s social and emotional well-being. 

Tags:  back to school lower school