Back-to-school season has always been stressful for a number of reasons. This upcoming school year presents new challenges for children embarking upon this journey. Mask mandates, social distancing, and temperature checks were all distant when learning at home, but now children are facing this new normal on their own when they go to school. How can parents ease this transition and their children’s anxieties when they step into the classroom? We prepared the Transition from at-home to in-person learning: a guide for parents.
Tips for helping your child adjust to school
The first step is validation, and lots of it. Children may gravitate to feelings of anxiety and fear, which can lead to loneliness. Letting them know they are not alone and have their parents’ support alleviates a lot of the worry and encourages them to face their anxieties head-on. Emphasize that this is the new normal and while it may take some adjustment, soon enough everything will feel familiar.
The second step is education, as knowing things for certain allays worry thoughts and minimizes catastrophizing that may come up. Initially, reading up about the virus and how it is transmitted can do away with a lot of the uncertainty that could be bubbling up in children’s heads. Teach children the proper safety procedures and reward them for maintaining them. This will greatly reduce their chances of getting Covid-19 and in turn will reduce their worries surrounding it. Then, learning about the local/district mandates gives parents the opportunity to know what their children are facing when heading back to school. With this information, parents can prepare their children for new day-to-day procedures, so it isn’t foreign to them when they get to school.
The third step is to re-familiarize children with the concept of being social. Staying at home for long periods of time is detrimental to social skills, and children are no exception. Going back to school in-person may feel awkward at first and could even feel frightening. However, it is important to remind children that it is just like riding a bike: things might feel weird and uncomfortable at first, but eventually it is possible for things to feel normal and even fun again.
The fourth of many possible steps is to regularly talk with your children and address problems as they arise. Remember to always try to understand from their perspective how daunting these times are. If problems are not resolving or are consistently coming back up, know when to reach out to a therapist for help.
Times are scary for everyone right now, and children are included. With school starting up again a lot may be coming up for children and it is important for parents to understand what they are up against so they can help their children as best as possible. The most important thing to take away from this guide is that children are in need of support and validation as they make this transition; thus, parents should be there as best they can.
If returning to school seems to be challenging for your child, meeting with a psychologist can help. Psychotherapy services can provide you with a safe therapeutic environment to process your concerns and help you build effective coping mechanisms. Psychologists at our group are currently accepting patients for individual, couples, children and family therapy.