As students, parents, and educators across the country head back-to-school, our HCA team is sharing advice for kicking the year off strong. Keep reading for the tips we have found to be most helpful when adjusting to the start of a new school year.
1. Create schedules and routines. Having schedules and clarity around morning and evening routines during the school year provides children with a feeling of safety and comfort. Sit down as a family and discuss what schedules look like heading back to school. Define roles each family member has in those schedules and ask for input to allow children to take part in the process. Set clear expectations and communicate regularly on items in your routine, like bedtimes, morning schedules, and homework.
2. Communicate, communicate, communicate. For many children, this school year marks a return to in-classroom learning for the first time in several months, and for some, in over a year. After all this time physically away from teachers, classmates and the traditional school day structure, children may feel a little out of practice when it comes to starting the school year. Take moments each day to touch base with your child to answer any questions and see how he/she is doing with the changes. One of the biggest areas that could create anxiety in the return to school is simply the uncertainty. The more information children are provided with, as appropriate to their developmental level, the better for their transition back.
3. Set small, manageable goals. Navigating a new routine can feel overwhelming for parents and students alike. Breaking down the process into smaller, manageable tasks helps mitigate feeling overwhelmed. Begin school-year bedtime routines before the first day starts. Add in morning, then evening routines to ease the entire family into the new schedule. Set goals to pack lunches or lay out clothes the night before to help with morning schedules, and adjust as often as needed to make it work for your family.
4. Support social skills development. The pandemic took its toll on our children, many who missed out on social interactions over the past year during very important social development milestones. It’s important that we 1) acknowledge this as they head back to a classroom full of their peers, and 2) prioritize opportunities to ease them back into social settings and interactions. Schedule bike rides or park outings with classmates, and find opportunities to check in with your child to gauge how they are acclimating and making friends.
5. For parents – stay involved, ask questions. Many schools have found creative ways to welcome students back into the classroom. Check with your school prior to the first day to see if they are hosting back-to-school orientations, be it in-person or virtual. Knowing what to expect prior to day one can cut down on first-day anxiety for parents and students. Children may also feel they have fallen behind after time spent in virtual learning. Keep them motivated to show up everyday with a curious mindset, and don’t hesitate to reach out to their teachers for updates and feedback from inside the classroom.
The most important thing to remember as parents, is that our children are resilient and they model the behavior of those around them. Creating routines, setting expectations, and providing clear communication, as appropriate to age level, will set your child and yourself up for a rewarding school year ahead.
If you have any additional questions about getting your child ready to head back into the classroom, don’t hesitate to reach out and let us know how we can help. You can email us here.