When school starts on August 5, there will be nothing routine about this year’s “back to school” experience. How can parents help their children prepare for what is sure to be a stressful situation? How can parents prepare themselves? Here are a few simple suggestions:
- Be honest with your child. Let your child know that this year will be different, and it may very well be difficult. The situation is new and unpredictable, with many variables that will depend on the spread of Covid-19. Giving your child realistic expectations will help him or her be better prepared to deal with difficulties.
- Stress the importance of social distancing, masking and proper handwashing. These are the three behaviors most likely to protect your family from Covid-19. If this behavior has already been learned at home, it will make it easier for children to adapt to Covid-19 rules at school.
- Emphasize the positive. While returning to school will be challenging, the chance to see old friends, meet new ones and get back into the classroom may be even more rewarding than in times past.
- Be prepared with child care alternatives. There is no guarantee that the school year will not be interrupted. If it is, having a plan in place will help you and your children manage a quarantine or shut down.
- When children are unhappy, they may want to find someone to blame. Encourage your child to recognize that the new rules aren’t personal. Reassure them that, for the 2020 school year, everyone is just doing the best they can in a difficult situation. Their teachers and principal are trying to educate them while keeping them safe and healthy.
- Assure your child that you are there to support them, listen to them and love them. Feeling secure at home helps children deal with challenges elsewhere.