18 Aug Back to School 2021: Creative Ways to Help your Kids Cope
Building a child’s confidence and helping them learn flexibility are important lessons for the 2021 school year. As they head back to school, children can be both looking forward to seeing their friends again, and somewhat fearful. Especially if starting a new grade, with a new teacher and classmates, or even attending a new school.
Below are some concrete suggestions for helping both of you cope – from making concepts like social distancing more tangible for kids to trying an after-school program to build confidence, as well as taking care of caregivers (parents like you).
Start with the Parental Back-to-School ABCs: Awareness, Being Flexible, and Creativity (add a Bit of Self-Care Too)
A: Awareness – Be aware of the things that stress your child out and watch for the signs as school starts. How does he or she react to stress? Do they hang back and hide, act out or melt down, or try to be the class joker? Allow space to listen, and for your kids to try to figure out and verbalize their emotions, so you can help them get a handle on things. See Resources link at bottom of article for a CDC link about helping children cope with back to school.
Awareness of your district’s back to school policies ahead of time can be crucial for a smooth transition. If your district is returning to in-person learning they may be asking parents provide different supplies in 2021.
Tip: Try making confusing ideas, like social distancing, tangible. Help children to learn to be aware of concepts that can be hard for them to grasp. Example: find fun ways to help kids visualize what keeping three or six feet distance from classmates means (depending on district/state or Federal guidelines) – hold a hula hoop or two between you or each hold the long end of a three-(or six)-foot-long string.
B: Be Flexible as things will likely change. Although this one may test your patience and resilience, build a backup plan – try anticipating potential mishaps and help your child be prepared (more than one mask, and send a second packet of hand wipes).
Tip: Be on the ball, check last-minute changes in emails from school as the first day approaches, especially if Covid-19 cases are increasing in your region.
C: Creativity and Care – Create structure to combat the stress that change can cause for our little ones (and their caregivers…you). Having a flexible structure in place can help kids get out the door smoothly in the morning. It can also give them (and you) something to lean on when other things change. See several tops below
Create Check Lists with your Children – involve your kids in thinking through what they need to prepare each night, so the mornings are easier, then create a checklist to guide them. Tip: Try a whiteboard, chalk board or big sticky notes – use pictures and colors to keep it fun.
Craft Routines – Morning and bedtime routines can be lifesavers for both you and your kids. They can bring stability to a seemingly ever- changing back to school environment.
Tip: Start the routines a few weeks before school starts so you can ease into them.
Carve Out Space for Study in your home for their homework area. You probably created a place during virtual schooling last year but see if it needs adapting to become a homework area for kids attending in-person classes. Be aware of dismantling it completely; if an uptick of Covid-19 cases happens; virtual schooling might return on short notice.
Care – Be sure to take care of yourself. If the parents/caregiver’s gas tank is empty the family “car” isn’t getting out of the garage – to stretch an analogy. After checking in with your kids to see how they are doing mentally, take stock of how you are doing. This transition is hard on you as well. Good bedtime and morning routines are important for parents and children.
Tip: In a two-parent household, negotiate ways to trade off, at least a few days a week, the tasks you each find most stressful.
Bonus Tip: If your child lost their educational edge, or is behind and needs to make up lost ground, try an after-school program like ALOHA:
Does your child love to learn but lost some of that passion last year? if so, an Afterschool program might be for them. Did your child fall behind last year in what’s called the Summer Slide or the Covid-19 Slide – after school programs can also help them too. ALOHA’s small class-size, teacher-led programs (Math, plus Reading and Writing classes for ages 3-12) are an ideal way to help both types of students. The interactive lessons also build confidence by giving your children quick mastery of the techniques, which they can take back to help them in school. Click here to find an ALOHA center. Most ALOHA classes are still virtual, but a few are starting back in person, following local and national guidelines for education and Covid-19.
Back to School 2021 Resources