PREPARING TO GO BACK TO SCHOOL IN-PERSON
Going back to school can be stressful for students during “normal” circumstances, but after a disruptive year due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, it can cause students even more stress. Last year, students learned in many different environments including in-person, at home and hybrid. For students who were in-person, they learned to wear a mask and huddle with the same group of students day in and day out. For those who were at home, they had the freedom of not wearing a mask, but spent all day on a screen. Those in the hybrid model had to balance at-home learning with in-person learning. Each type of learning came with its own stressors for both students and parents.
The start of the 2021 school year has started for many and is just around the corner for others. Most schools are going back to full-time in-person learning without the option for remote learning. Each district has its own set of guidelines in place to keep students safe, but students may have added stress and anxiety due to all the changes the pandemic has brought. For many students, this year will bring new routines, expectations, and activities, which may add new stressors.
Here are some types of anxiety your family may be feeling about the upcoming school year and how you can help alleviate some of them:
Anxiety About Balancing
Many parents haven’t commuted to their job in over a year and students are not used to going to school in-person for a full week of school. Getting out the door to get to school and work again can cause anxiety for the whole family. Try not to wait until the first day of school to make changes to your current schedule. If parents have flexibility, try returning to the office before school starts, so that students can get used to being separated and parents coming and going again.
For students who participated in remote learning last year, the thought of going back to school with their peers can be stressful. Try to schedule a playdate with friends or visit their school ahead of time to help remote learners get back into the routine of leaving the home.
Some students with behavior challenges did better in the home environment because there were fewer demands on them; it may be a difficult transition to go back to in-person learning full time. To help readjust to the classroom, parents should lay out their behavior expectations. This includes routine things, like keeping your hands to yourself, listening to the teachers requests and being kind to others.
Kids Who Lost Confidence
Many students struggled last year with remote learning and it caused them to lose confidence. If your student is resisting going back to school, try getting them involved in a group activity to get them excited about learning something new. This can make it easier for them to get excited about going back to school and build their self-confidence about learning something new.
Source: Child Mind Institute (https://childmind.org)