Preparing for a Post-COVID Return to School
It’s been a long, strange few months, and returning to school is likely a welcome event for many parents and kids. But while returning to school is important for children’s social and educational development, the transition from homeschool back to the classroom can be a difficult one, global pandemic notwithstanding. You and your child probably have a lot of questions, and maybe a little anxiety, too. Here are some ways to prepare your family for a successful start to a new year.
Strategies to avoid virus transmission
The CDC has provided guidance for schools in order for them to open as safely as possible. Brooksfield School will be adhering to all guidelines and takes you and your children’s safety seriously. As a parent, now is a good time to reinforce healthy practices so they will not seem strange when school starts. Teach children to cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue and to throw the tissue in the trash. Make sure everyone washes their hands for 20 seconds after using the restroom, before eating, after coughing or sneezing, and after blowing your nose. To ensure your child washes their hands for the correct amount of time, you can teach them to sing a song like “Happy Birthday” while they scrub.
Because soap and water may not always be available, for example during outside playtime, children should also know how to properly use hand sanitizer. Children should use an ample amount to cover their hands and rub until it is fully absorbed.
Masks may also be required in the classroom. If your child is not used to wearing one, practice at home. Let your child pick out a few fun patterns that will make wearing the masks more enjoyable. Make sure your child knows not to chew, lick, or pull down their mask. This can be harder with small children, so do just do your best and try not to make it stressful for your child.
Preparing kids for what a new classroom will look like
As you talk to your child about their return to school, it’s a good idea to discuss what may look different this year than last year.
You can start the conversation by asking how your child feels about returning to school. You may be surprised to find that your child doesn’t necessarily share your same fears about them returning to school. If they are happy and positive, build on that.
Most children’s worries stem from feelings they pick up from their parents. So if your child seems frightened ask them why. Take their concerns seriously. Help them come up with solutions and answers to their fears that leave them empowered.
If your child expresses sadness at leaving home after all this time with you, let them know you will miss them, too. But remind them of all the positives about returning to school, such as seeing their friends and teachers, and resuming their favorite lessons.
Be honest about changes your child may face when they return to school. Students may need to be kept apart in certain situations and classroom sizes may be smaller. Adults will be wearing masks and so may other children. Everyone will have to wash hands more often.
Keep fears manageable by explaining the “why” behind new rules in ways they can understand. For example, there are germs out there that can make people very sick, but washing hands will keep everyone safe.
Most of all, stay upbeat about the changes. Focus on the good things and don’t mention the stuff they may have to miss out on.
Return to routine
As Aug. 20 approaches, get your child back into a routine just as you would before school every year.
Get back on a regular sleep schedule if things have been a bit lax over the summer. This is never fun but will benefit you and your child greatly at the start of the year.
Brush up on subjects with your child. Make reading time more intentional. Go over the alphabet and numbers. Refreshing your child in several subjects will make the transition easier and empower them.
Shop for groceries before school starts. Let your child pick out some of their favorites for lunches and snacks. You can even plan a special celebration dinner for their first day back. Discuss with your child what his or her school routine will be like during the year. If you’re feeling ambitious you can try to structure your last few weeks of vacation in a manner that mimics what your child’s schedule will look like. If you or your partner are working outside the home, you may want to try and schedule a shorter workday on the first day of school so you can be available for drop off and pick up time. Helping your child gain confidence after this lockdown period is going to be a gradual process. Your family will have good days and bad, and that’s OK. Try to take things at your child’s pace. Plan ahead as much as you can so your child has a stable start. And, most importantly, keep lines of communication open so you can support them during this transition.