Back to school tips this year may be a little different.
During this hectic time of the pandemic, Covid-19 cases have decreased in many areas, and are rising in others, even though fears about illness still linger.
Many schools may still offer the option of in-person learning. But some may not. As a result, many kids are returning to the classroom after months of e-learning from home.
This significant change may be a blessing for parents or children who are eager to return to the classroom, but it also could be a cause of anxiety for some.
Not only are these changes affecting children returning to the classroom, they also have an impact on the mental health of children who are continuing virtual learning from home or homeschooling.
Thankfully, there are options for help.
Here are 8 back to school tips, focusing on mental health, to help anxious students returning to school.
Change can be good but it can also stir up fears of what’s next. The first step in making peace with change is to acknowledge it.
Talk to your kids about how they’re feeling about returning to school this fall. Having open, age-appropriate conversations with your children will help them know they are protected and not alone.
2. Remember mask etiquette.
Remind your children of the importance of proper mask-wearing. Children, especially younger ones, may have difficulties keeping their masks on for long periods.
Ensure your child feels comfortable wearing a mask before returning to school by practicing at home.
If you find your child is anxious about wearing a mask, it might be beneficial to teach your child breathing techniques to help.
3. Encourage proper hygiene.
Encourage frequent hand washing and sanitization.
Remind your children of the importance of social distancing and germ prevention.
4. Address social changes.
The pandemic has forced social distancing, and many of us have not had face-to-face socialization outside of our immediate family since its start.
While most children will bounce right back into face-to-face socialization, it might be helpful for them to do so with a parent present before returning to in-person school.
Socially anxious children are especially prone to difficulties.
You can help mitigate your child’s anxieties by role-playing situations your child may encounter on their first days back, such as talking to a peer or teacher.
5. Get back on schedule.
Changing to in-person learning from virtual is quite the schedule adjustment. This is especially true for students who haven’t had to wake up for regular early morning school hours since before the start of the pandemic.
Help your child adjust to classroom routines by getting back on a regular schedule.
Setting recurring morning alarms a few days before starting in-person schooling can help kids get back into a routine.
6. Address fears about health risks at school.
It’s natural for kids to have some concerns about exposure to COVID-19 when returning to in-person learning.
Remind your kids that scientists, health experts, parents, teachers, and other leaders are doing everything they can to ensure their health and safety.
7. Encourage daily self-care.
Advocate and model adaptive self-care for your children.
Self-care looks different for everyone and may include yoga, meditation, coloring, or even a quick walk around the park.
Be creative and have fun!
8. Stay positive.
Your children look up to you as their guide and model, and staying positive can undoubtedly help them feel more at ease with the transition back into in-person learning.
Talking to your children about the positives of returning to in-person schooling can help.
Have them list what they are most excited about for returning to in-person school and remind them to focus on those, as needed.
If you notice that your child has the following symptoms, it may be a great time to start therapy
Feeling constantly on edge
Withdrawing from social situations
Counseling can be beneficial when it comes to adjusting to school changes and the state of the pandemic.
However your child is feeling, make sure that you follow these steps and continue to support them going forward.
Dr. Leda Kaveh is a licensed clinical psychologist and the owner/director of Washington Psychological Wellness. If you want to learn more about family therapy, contact them today!
This article was originally published at Washington Psychological Wellness. Reprinted with permission from the author.