This time of year typically brings a range of emotions. Many students are excited to get back to school, spend time with their friends, and participate in extracurricular activities. For others, nerves kick in and anxieties heighten about what the new school year may bring. But for nearly all families back to school means stability and routine.
But this year is different. Students, parents, and teachers are feeling anything but stable. COVID-19 didn’t disappear over summer and school-age families are left to navigate the uncertainty of an ever-changing school schedule.
Even though back to school looks vastly different this year, there are strategies you can use to keep your kids feeling like they’re still on solid ground.
Focus on What You Can Control
While you can’t control COVID-19 or the policies your school puts in place, there are plenty of opportunities still in your hands. You have the ability to control your attitude each school day—even the hard ones. The love you give your kids once they step through the door or finish their schoolwork is a powerful opportunity also within your control.
And when the entire family is exhausted and there aren’t enough hours in the day, you can choose to be grateful for those around you. Continuing to instill a similar mentality in your kids will aid them in feeling less worry as they search for a new back to school routine.
Keep Open Communication with Your Kids
No matter how old your kids are they know something is different this year. The stress of every adult around them can be felt and they’re left wondering if life will ever go back to normal. One way to help your kids feel more comfortable as they head back to school is to let them know you’re there to listen.
Whether it’s fears about wearing a mask to school or sadness because they miss their friends, help them understand their feelings are valid. Give older kids a notebook to write in if they’re shy about having a face to face conversation. Take time each evening to ask every family member about the positives and challenges of the day.
As those back to school scaries creep in, realize your family is not alone. The entire world is experiencing the impact of COVID-19. Be as understanding as possible with your kids, their teachers, and administrators. Keep in mind that your colleagues, boss, direct reports, etc. are also attempting to manage back to school changes. It will take time for families to get used to hybrid learning, 100% remote learning, and wearing masks for seven hours straight.
Being compassionate is the number one way you can be there for others during this time. Teach your kids the importance of compassion as they head into their new learning environment. And don’t forget to be understanding with yourself as well.
Find a Support System
Relying on others going through similar situations is helpful. It’s easier to band together and not feel like you’re on a deserted island when you know people understand what you’re going through. It’s also helpful to have people you can rely on that are in different circumstances because you can see perspectives you hadn’t considered.
A support system is critical for you and your kids as everyone heads back to school, Just be sure you’re surrounding yourself with people who lift you up rather than get those negative juices flowing. Remind your kids how they can be supportive to their friends and family as well.
While heading back to school may be challenging, the most important thing is that you and your kids are doing the best you can. Find ways to create more memories and open your mind to new opportunities. You never know how something might work out for your family.