The first day of school can bring about a lot of big emotions in a regular year—let alone after a year and a half of uncertainty caused by COVID-19. Lots of students have been learning remotely or on a hybrid schedule. Families have had more than their fair share of stress, so it’s natural for kids and parents to experience a bit of anxiety as they head into the school year.
Whether kids are going back to the classroom in-person, remotely or a combination of both, there are a few things that grown-ups can do to help students adjust to a new routine. We’ve rounded up links to the best resources, insights and advice to help parents prepare kids to succeed this school year.
Edin Randall and Samantha Bento, The Washington Post
Key takeaway: While nobody asked for the disruptions that came with the COVID-19 pandemic, families were quick to adapt. It’s true that most kids and parents want to return to normal life, but some of us have become “comfortably uncomfortable.” That means that it can be a scary prospect to go back to school—but even so, it’s an important thing for us to do in the long run. Be brave, and cut yourself and your kids lots of slack.
Awesome tidbit: “Although safety concerns or other circumstances may make a hybrid model or online-only schooling appropriate for some families, a knee-jerk choice to go remote can create a slippery slope of avoidance of what may have caused distress before the pandemic.”
Key takeaway: Not only is preschool an exciting time for kids and parents—it’s also a time when developmental milestones abound. Every child is different and some can tolerate change more than others. Parents can help ease the transition back to school by establishing routines ahead of time—like practicing getting ready for school in the mornings. If schools are offering the option, it’s a good idea to visit the classroom before the first day so students know what to expect.
Awesome tidbit: “Learning how to get ready each morning for the trip to school takes time and practice. It’s helpful to practice this before the actual first day. Pretend it’s a school day, and go through the steps of getting up, dressed, fed and out the door.”
Key takeaway: When kids go back to school in person, there are a lot of things to consider. Parents might be contending with first-day jitters, school lunch planning, sleep routines or issues around bullying. Luckily, healthychildren.org has put together a comprehensive list—so you can find all the advice you need in one place.
Awesome tidbit: “Remind them that there are probably a lot of students who are uneasy about the first day of school. Teachers know that students are nervous and will make an extra effort to make sure everyone feels as comfortable as possible. If your child seems nervous, ask them what they are worried about and help them problem solve ways to master the new situation.”
Perri Klass, M.D., The New York Times
Key takeaway: Thanks to the delta variant, returning to the classroom this year might be a stressful thing for parents and students. There are plenty of things beyond our control, but there are also things we can do to make the transition smoother. Projecting calm is important. Parents should also anticipate that students’ academic performance may take a bit of time to rebound, and that’s okay!
Awesome tidbit: “Instead of focusing on the expectation that kids will be at grade level, the tone for teachers and parents should be, ‘this may be something you missed, we’re just going to have to work on it together.’”
Key takeaway: For many families, remote school came with unexpected benefits: learning from home has given some students the chance to work at their own pace, and lots of kids have benefited from one-on-one attention. So, students might experience a mix of excitement and hesitance when they return to the classroom. It’s important to reassure kids that returning to school can be done safely.
Awesome tidbit: “Many parents had conversations with their children about the importance of learning from home to keep them healthy and safe. Some children may now worry about the safety of returning to school.”
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