It’s a strange time. In the face of a pandemic and lots of debate about whether schools should re-open some parents are choosing to home-school and some children are returning to face to face classes. I want to provide some back to school tips during a
The most important tip I have is to realize that parents are doing the best they can and
know how to do given unprecedented circumstances and we all need to be kind and
gentle with one another during this time. Whether you are a parent who has no choice
in the matter due to having to work outside of the home and needing your children to go
to school or maybe you’re a parent who is gripped with anxiety about the risks and have
made decision to homeschool, it’s a stressful time for everyone.
Tips for Parents Sending Children Back to School
- As much as possible, keep it positive and fun in terms of the adjustments that will be needed for this school year.
- Have conversations to prepare your child that teachers will probably all be wearing masks and maybe gloves and explain the reason without causing fear for your child. Be very matter of fact and up-beat
- In the case your school is requiring masks and social distancing, let your child become familiar with face-coverings as a part of her wardrobe, explaining why we are wearing them. You might purchase or make plain light-colored masks your child can decorate with fabric pens to personalize it.
- Talk about what social distancing looks like. Introduce air-high-fives instead of hugs and have discussions about not sharing food and drink with others.
- Go over hand washing protocols and encourage your child to practice keeping hands away from his face.
- Consider a plastic back-pack that is easy to wipe down with disinfectant wipes when your child returns home from school.
- Make a game of the return home routine with singing a silly song while removing shoes and clothes in the laundry room and taking a nice warm shower before settling in after the day at school.
- Be sure to organize time outdoors for your child and family after school. Being in nature as much as possible will be a healthy way to get some fresh air and be together after the school days.
- Create evenings that are as relaxing as possible for the whole family to mitigate stress everyone may be feeling. Lower the lights, play some soft music and make bedtime a time for plenty of cuddles and reading books together.
Tips for Parents Homeschooling
- Try to keep school days at home as normal as possible by having your child get ready for the day just as she would if she were going to school away from home. Pick out an outfit the night before, get dressed in the morning after breakfast, brush teeth and hair and get school supplies all organized.
- Build in social time for your child. Arrange online video chats with friends in advance or have a lunch date with a social friend or group of friends.
- Schedule recess! Get outdoors to run, swing, play in the fresh air every day.
- Keep a routine and stick to it. This level of structure will provide a sense of normalcy and give your child and you a sense of security.
Tips for All Parents
- Tune into your own emotions and stress level. Be sure you are taking time for yourself. If you need to hire a tutor to meet with your child online to help with those math assignments while you take some time to yourself with a good book, do it.
- Consider finding a counselor to talk to if you notice the stress of the pandemic situation is getting to you. Your child needs you to take care of you and sometimes leaning into some professional support an really help.
- Schedule relaxed fun time for the whole family regularly. You might set up the sprinkler out in the yard for the kids while you sit in the shade and relax. Maybe there’s a good movie and a bowl of popcorn you can all enjoy together in the evening. Take the kids out for a nature walk after dinner.
If your child seems to be having a tough time adjusting to the challenges of the return to school during a pandemic, consider reaching out for some play therapy services and parenting support. I will be happy to speak with you further about how I might support you and your family during this time. Meanwhile I hope these back to school tips during a pandemic will help you to feel like you can create a plan that will work for your family.