The 2020-2021 school year was, in a word, challenging. Students across the country found themselves scrambling to adjust to online courses, ever-changing schedules, and logistical complications that had been previously unexperienced in the American education system. As kids begin to head back to the classroom, it’s important to provide them with the resources and support necessary to help them find success. In this article, I’ll discuss some of the ways you can help your child get acclimated to their new school routine.
1. Discuss the Value of Flexibility
Despite the policies, procedures, and safeguards put into place to slow or eliminate the spread of Covid-19 in schools, some regions of the U.S. are detecting an increase in cases amongst children. As the situation evolves, there is always the possibility that your local protocols and teaching methods may change as well. Be open with your children and explain that their daily routine may change as the school year progresses. By helping your child prepare for and weather this uncertainty, you equip them for academic success, whether online or in the classroom.
2. Make Sure Your Child Knows It’s Ok to Ask for Help
Make sure your child feels comfortable asking you, teachers, school staff, and loved ones for the assistance they need. Whether your child doesn’t know where the bathroom is at their new school or is struggling with one of their classes, there are resources in place to support them. Encourage age-appropriate, candid conversations with your child about their day-to-day life, school activities, and general well-being. By making yourself readily available and shaping an open, safe environment, you help your child feel secure and comfortable.
3. Set Manageable Goals to Ease Your Child’s Way into the School Year
As the school year starts, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by coursework, social interactions, and a new learning environment. Help your child become acclimated to their new routine by setting small, easy-to-accomplish goals. This can be as simple as:
- Learning the names of their classmates
- Getting familiar with class routines
- Re-connecting with friends
- Building a checklist of upcoming assignments
4. Strive to Set a Regular Sleep Schedule
Getting a good amount of rest helps your child wake up feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the school day. For younger children especially, try to set a reasonable bedtime that allows for an adequate amount of sleep. The CDC suggests that children aged 6-12 should aim for 9-12 hours of sleep and children aged 13-18 should try to sleep for 8-10 hours. Studies suggest that a satisfactory amount of sleep may help your child avoid health conditions such as obesity, diabetes, or cardiovascular disease. To ensure that your child gets a satisfactory night’s rest, try to limit the use of electronics in the bedroom past a certain pre-determined hour.
5. Make Sure Your Child Can Reach You if Needed
If your child is going back to the classroom, ensure that they know where you and other family members are. By checking that your child has a way to contact you or another loved one in an emergency, you help them feel secure in their environment. You may even consider leaving a whiteboard in the kitchen that details where each family member is for the day.
6. Prioritize Mental Health
Going back to school may be a stressful experience for some children, especially those who experienced constant turmoil throughout the previous school year. Make sure your child knows they can speak to you if they’re experiencing symptoms of anxiety, stress, and depression. Keep an eye out for any signs of bullying, whether in the classroom or via cyberbullying. If you’re wondering whether your child is being bullied, Rodriguez & Associates is an excellent resource for getting to the sources of your child’s situation. The following signs may indicate that your child may need mental health support:
- Sudden changes in activities or behaviors
- Academic troubles
- Sudden weight gain or loss
- Signs of depression
- An irregular sleep schedule
- Destructive behaviors, such as self-harm
- Substance abuse
7. Take Care of Yourself
An often-overlooked factor during the school season is the well-being of the child’s parents. By protecting your mental health, doing things you love with your family, and getting plenty of rest, you empower yourself to provide your child with an excellent support system. Studies suggest that a child’s mental health is influenced by that of their parent’s, so it’s important to take care of yourself.
Conquering the School Year With Confidence
Although this year may present frightening transitions for your child, encourage them to take advantage of new opportunities this school season. Push them to connect with their classmates, explore subjects that interest them, and prioritize self-care. By strengthening your child’s support system, you’ll prepare them for whatever the school year sends their way.