Mentally Preparing Kids for Back-to-School in 2021
Back-to-school for 2021 will be interesting in many households. Maybe not as challenging as 2020 was, but there will still be some unique hurdles to get over. Homeschooling and remote learning aren’t long gone; they’re pretty fresh in your kids’ minds, so they might not be as keen on in-person school as they would have been usually.
So how do you prepare your children and your entire household to dive back into the “old normal” when it no longer feels normal? These tips should help you and your family mentally prepare for going back to school.
Start the Schedule Early
Long before that first, hurried morning, put bedtimes in place and start waking everyone up early in the morning. It’s a struggle, for sure, but it’s going to make that crazy first morning of school that much easier to manage.
Be Positive and Create Excitement
Enthusiasm is contagious, but so are fear and anxiety. Your child fuels their emotions from yours, and this means if you can create some excitement about them going back to school, they’re going to jump right on that bandwagon and start getting excited too. So make sure to take the time to talk about all the fun things they’ll get to do. You can even have open conversations about what they’re looking forward to doing and what has them worried.
Have a Back-to-School Party
Make back-to-school a big deal – host an end-of-summer party for friends that focuses on back-to-school. Get together and organize an event where your kids can apply their School Labels to their new stuff. They can make book covers and decorate them with stickers, drawings, and little messages to each other. You can discuss meals and snacks, and then everyone can try making a snack or two together. Talk about homework, new expectations, new worries, things they’re excited about – create a space where school is the focus, and everyone can see that their friends have the same feelings and are not alone. By the way, if the parents can get together simultaneously, they can benefit from the same sort of sharing.
Create a Space for Learning
The kitchen table has long been the go-to for many kids when it comes to homework, but it’s typically not the best place. If you can create a space that’s just theirs, where they have supplies, limited distractions, and develop good habits, you’ll set the stage for more efficient learning. Not just now, but throughout their lives.
One of the most anxiety-causing things in life is not knowing what to expect. This is true for people of all ages. The good news is that you know basically what your child’s day will be like when they go to school. Try a dry run of a school day so they know exactly what to expect. Make sure they ask those questions that are bothering them.
Have Post-School Fun Plans
Sometimes having something to look forward to eases the stress of the day. Turn the first day of school into a celebration with special treats, dinner with friends, playdates, or whatever would appeal most to your kids. This gives them something to look forward to and will help them navigate through school.
Address the Health and Safety
Health, sanitation, germs – all of those things have become a big part of your child’s life. Some of them will hardly remember when staying healthy wasn’t a top-of-mind factor. They’re going to have questions, concerns, and even anxieties that you probably never even considered because you’re more comfortable with the way things were than they are. Address their concerns, try to help navigate fears about being around others, not wearing masks, and not social distancing. Let them know that things are still changing and that’s okay. The pandemic affected every person in a different way, so it’s important to keep talking about it.
This coming school year might fall quickly in line with what children experienced before the Covid pandemic, or it could be a strange year with last-minute changes and a lot of flexibility. No one can predict exactly how things are going to play out, so your best bet is to prepare your little one for a change. It’s not easy because they tend to thrive with routines, but your willingness to talk openly and listen to their anxieties will help a lot.
They’ll also feel better about school if they’re excited about learning, having new school supplies with their names and personal labels, meeting new friends and playing together, and the adventures they’ll have. If you stay positive, they’re likely to be more positive too.
Thank you again for joining us for another edition of The Weekly Bubble! We hope the transition between summer vacation and the new school year is a smooth one for you and your children.
We’ll talk to you next week!