Many school districts will return to in-person learning for the 2021-2022 academic year. But are children ready for this?
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(1) Have a Conversation About Plans for the New School Year
Over the summer, talk to your child about the plans for the upcoming school year. Will they be taking advantage of a hybrid learning option? Will they be back in school full time? Will they need to wear masks?
Whatever the case may be, make sure your child knows exactly what to expect during this new school year.
This is also a great opportunity to discuss any worries or concerns related to this change. It is better to be proactive and address any of these anxieties before school starts back. This conversation can also help both you and your kid to better prepare for the return to school.
(2) Establish and Ease into a Routine Before School Starts Back
Establish a routine before it becomes mandatory. If your child will be waking up every morning a 7 am to prepare for school, start waking up at that time now. Begin eating lunch around the time they’d eat lunch at school.
You can take baby steps here, but the idea is that you don’t just spring a new routine on your child on the first day of school. They will feel a lot more confident going into the new school year if they are already familiar, and comfortable with, their routine.
(3) Turn Back to School Shopping into a Special Event
Celebrate the new school year with a light-hearted back-to-school shopping event. Your child can take part in selecting their school supplies and clothing and you can even finish the day with a special lunch.
This is a great way to build excitement for the new school year. I mean, if we’re being honest here, back-to-school shopping is typically the most exciting part of summer’s end for kids.
(4) Check-in with your child daily
When school does start back, make an effort to check in with your child daily.
Check-in with them in the morning before they head off to school. Here are some great questions to ask.
- How are you feeling this morning?
- How did you sleep last night?
- What’s one thing you’re really looking forward to?
- What is something you would really like to see improve today?
- Is there anything you would like to talk about?
- Is there anything I can do to help you today?
- Do you feel safe at school?
- Do you feel safe at home?
It is also a great idea to check in with your child after school, either at dinner or before bedtime. You may choose to ask questions, such as:
- How was your day?
- What is one thing you think could’ve been better?
- What is one thing you think you did really well today?
- How are you feeling right now?
- Is there anything I can do to help you?
- Is there anything you would like to talk about?
These questions are great starting points to help monitor your child’s mental health. It can also lead to some very powerful conversations. This is definitely a step that more of us need to take with our children on a daily basis.
(5) Prioritize Health
Speaking of mental health, you also want to make sure your physical health is in order. This return to in-person learning can be quite an adjustment for the entire family and could increase stress levels or take a toll on your health.
Make sure you all are getting the recommended hours of sleep for optimal health. Eat nutritious meals. Do what you can to support your immune system. Practice good hygiene, and make sure you are getting regular exercise.
You may even consider adding a daily multivitamin to your child’s routine.
I recommend stocking up on First Day’s kids multivitamins (make sure you use code FDFAM to get 20% off your order). These particular vitamins are: organic, contain 50-80% less sugar than other gummy vitamins on the market, contain 9 essential nutrients for kids, and they’re tasty!
(6) Practice and Encourage Mindfulness
I am a huge advocate for teaching and encouraging mindfulness in children. This is an excellent way to teach children how to manage stress and overcome challenges as effectively as possible.
Mindfulness can also help children improve their focus and their overall academic performance. There are lots of simple mindfulness activities you can use to get started. It can be as easy as closing your eyes and taking a few deep breaths before making your next move, starting a gratitude practice, or a quick guided meditation.
(7) Listen to your child
Listen to your child as they express their needs or concerns. Let them know that you truly care and that their voice is being heard. Doing so will provide them with a sense of safety and protection. It will also encourage them to voice their concerns so that you can help them.
(8) Always Have a Backup Plan
Last but not least, always make sure you have a backup plan. Of course, we are NOT planning for failure here. But you do want to have a plan in place in case anything changes and your child returns to a virtual learning format.
Returning to in-person learning can be difficult after spending over a year learning virtually. The good news is, there are steps you can take to make the process easier. Feel free to share some of your own best tips in the comments!