The 2021 school year will be like no other. Let’s be honest, this past year has been really hard on families, and even harder on our children. As we prepare to return to in-person learning—or some combination of it—know there are small, simple ways you can support your child that will make a big difference.
Practice open, honest conversation
It’s okay not to have all the answers, just asking the right questions can go a long way.
- For elementary schoolers: Let children know that school will look a little different than it did before and that it’s okay. Desks may be further apart, and they may not be able to sit close to friends. Remind them that this is all part of keeping them safe. Encourage handwashing–singing, Row, Row, Row Your Boat or Happy Birthday can help make this fun. Be firm but supportive. If your child seems scared or nervous at drop off, let them know they have to go to school but they will be home soon to talk about everything they learned. Reward brave behavior with words of praise and remember to watch for signs of anxiety.
- For middle schoolers: Ask them what they are most excited about. What are they nervous about? Start to reintroduce school day routines prior to school starting so that it is not too difficult to get back into the swing of things. Watch for signs of anxiety, reassure them, and show them you understand how they feel. Remind them of the importance of physical distancing in the classroom.
- For high schoolers: Ask them what they are most excited about. What are they nervous about? Watch for signs of anxiety, reassure them, and show them you understand how they feel. Set rules and expectations for seeing friends and significant others in person.
How to be social while social distancing
- For elementary schoolers: Jelly fish high five. Hold your hand up, slowly wiggle your fingers, and get ready for a spaced high five that never touches.
- For middle and high schoolers: Elbow bump. Elbow bumps are the new handshake. Tap elbows to remain distanced.