Are you prepared for your kids to be back in the classroom this fall? The American Academy of Pediatrics does encourage in-person learning stating, “We recognize that children learn best when physically present in the classroom.”
But it’s hard to get back into the swing of things even in the best of times. What do you do when you also have to worry about COVID-19? Suburban Pediatrics’ Dr. Rosalynd Brackens is here to help with tips to transition for both parents and kids.
Three Back-to-School Tips to Keep Kids Healthy
1. Prepare Before School Starts
“Take a campus tour,” says Dr. Brackens. “Your kid will get excited if you show them that school is their ‘kid job.’ ”
With the topic of COVID-19, she suggests parents, “Sit them down and have a conversation. Explain that they’ll be wearing a mask for their own protection and to protect others.”
2. Look for Signs of Stress
Is your child acting out of character or withdrawn? A new school year is a big change, especially if your son or daughter is starting at a new school. But the following signs of stress may mean it’s time to see your family provider:
- Showing a loss of interest in friends, sports or hobbies
- Sleeping too much or too little and having nightmares
- Having crying fits
“Check in with your kids,” says Dr. Brackens. “During wellness checks, especially right now, I always ask, ‘How have you been feeling?’ There’s nothing wrong with change, especially as kids hit certain milestones. But it’s important to listen to your child’s concerns. Are they worried about the usual school stuff? Or are they worried about themselves or mom and dad getting sick?”
3. Be Flexible
There’s a chance that even schools opening for in-person learning could suddenly switch to distance learning. Let your child know this is a possibility. Plan to already have a learning space in mind for them.
According to Dr. Brackens, “Kids should already have a home office for homework. It can be in their bedroom, the living room, the kitchen, anywhere. And find ways to make it feel professional and personalized, like desk lamps and pictures from school.”
The key for ongoing success is to limit disturbances — and that includes parents multitasking. Don’t watch TV, cook or vacuum — that can distract from schoolwork.
Enjoy This Time
Are you and your kids approaching the upcoming school year feeling prepared and excited or anxious and pessimistic? Stay positive, and make your kids feel special! Throw a pizza or cookie party or have a movie night!
And it’s also a good idea to normalize wearing masks by taking your kids out and showing them other people wearing them. “Kids pick up on worries,” says Dr. Brackens. “Try not to worry if you don’t want them to worry.”
Additional Tips for Mental and Physical Well-Being
- Meet teachers ahead of time, if possible
- Remind your children of friends they haven’t seen in a while
- Adjust to new sleep and morning routines ahead of time
- Don’t let older siblings ruin the idea of school
- Keep up great reading habits
- Track family activities with a calendar
- Plan transportation to and from school
- Decrease screen time
- Pick school supplies and organize backpacks together
- Let them choose school outfits — within reason!