For many children in America, their schools abruptly closed their doors last spring during the coronavirus pandemic and never reopened.
With the new school year looming, institutions that are open for in-person instruction will be doing so with social distancing and other precautions against COVID-19. Although different school districts will handle it differently, some universal advice will get you and your children through the transition.
Gather the Supplies
Besides the usual glue sticks, pencils and crayons, you’ll likely have to add items such as hand sanitizer and face masks to the list this year. Each school district will have its own recommendations, but starting with the basics will give you more time to procure everything you need. It’s also a good idea to involve children in the shopping so they can select the new protective items alongside the usual school supplies, helping them regain a sense of normalcy.
Practice Wearing Masks at Home
One of the biggest adjustments for students this year will be wearing face masks all day. Although you may be used to wearing one for your weekly grocery shopping, chances are your kids haven’t had as much experience with them. While you’re still all home together, have the children wear their masks around the house to get used to the feeling. It is also a good time to make any size or fabric adjustments based on their feedback.
Talk About Their Anxiety
Allowing children to express their feelings will be especially important now that they will be outside of the home for at least part of the day, possibly for the first time since the pandemic began. Opening the channels of communication now makes them more likely to come to you for reassurance later. If you find that you or anyone in your family simply cannot cope with overwhelming feelings of anxiety or sadness, it may be time to seek professional help.
Plan for a Celebration
Having something positive to look forward to is the best way to instill a sense of hope during challenging times. Think of something realistic such as a special meal or treat once they’ve completed their first week of school, or arrange a Zoom party with some friends to celebrate. Knowing that better days are ahead can make all the difference when starting the new school year seems daunting.
The coronavirus pandemic is an unprecedented situation for everyone, but the good news is that parents can take a proactive approach to helping their kids overcome the stress of a very different start to their school year.