The start to a new school year can be stressful during a normal year, let alone during our current situation of being in the midst of a global pandemic. The locust are out, which means school is right around the corner. This also means, we should probably start having open conversations now about how this school year may look a bit different.
Talk with your child about what is on their mind regarding going back to school. Help your child use feeling words and reassure them that it is natural to feel whatever feelings they are having. Maybe you can throw in an example of yourself. Have you had to have a work meeting in person that left you feeling uneasy? Have you felt frustrated or anxious going to the grocery store? Let them know they are not alone in having feelings.
There might also be reluctance to go back to school as some kids have really enjoyed and taken to learning from home. As with any change or transition, it can be hard. Use examples of previous change and how they handled it well or overcome it in the end. You’ll have a recent example from March on when your child transitioned to at home learning.
Also start talking openly about changes they may encounter at school. There has been consistent talk about wearing face masks, cleaning regimens, social distancing with friends during lunch or recess and personal hygiene. Help you child think though how they can still be connected to their friends. Turns out, this may also be a reminder for connection with your own coworkers/friends!
There are a lot of adults trying their best to think through really complicated issues. We will want to reassure our kids (and ourselves) of that. Their school and all the people that work there, are working diligently to find a safe plan. Yes, I know the plan won’t be perfect and it is already not working for some, but we want our kids to be assured that their teachers and the rest of the staff are looking out for them. You just might find going through this (and many more to follow) conversation with your kids also decreases anxiety on your part.
Open conversations. Reassure your child. Work through feelings as a family.