Getting back into a routine after the holidays can be difficult for all of us, but especially difficult for children transitioning back to school in person after participating in virtual learning since last March. Canopy Children’s Solutions’ CARES School Jackson Principal Maureen Long offers some tips to help make the transition smoother.
“I expect transitioning back to face-to-face learning will take some time and effort,” said Long. “Children have been able to show up at the last minute without much prep. In many cases, they have had extra breaks during the day and been able to fidget without disturbing their neighbor, walk around, snack, etc. so this is going to be an adjustment. It’s going to take some time but there are things parents can do to ease the transition.”
Get Back in Routine
Parents can help children begin their transition by getting back into a school routine early. Even when children aren’t having to get up early, begin waking them at the time they will have to begin getting ready so it isn’t such a shock to their system on the first day. A child who is tired won’t be able to focus as clearly as a child who is well-rested.
Fuel your Body and Mind Well
Start each day with a healthy breakfast and limit snacks to the times your student would be able to eat and snack at school. Consider packing your child an extra special snack so it is something they can look forward to enjoying.
Schedule your Time
With children going back to school, this leads to less free play, which is a critical part of child development. Schedule times in the evening for play and for homework. Mix in a time once or twice a week that is just for family and let your child choose what you do together whether it is play a game, watch a movie or take a family bike ride. If your child struggles with homework, find a way to make it fun or interactive to make it more interesting and applicable to daily life.
Make Time to Talk
Going back to school may not be something new to your child but it may be something that is more difficult this time. Last year was difficult for many children and it’s important that children still feel heard and supported during this time.
“Transition may be really difficult for some children, particularly if it is something the child isn’t excited about,” said Long. “Be there to listen to their concerns and help them find positive solutions. Make sure they feel heard and know you are there for them. Keeping a positive attitude can make the biggest difference in a child having a smooth transition. Your support is crucial.”
Always be Supportive
Coming back into the school building is going to be an adjustment, not just for the students but the teachers too. Remember that it takes time to settle into a routine and there will be an adjustment period that may come with more difficult behavior, sour attitudes and maybe even some notes coming home from school. Help to reinforce expectations but offer patience and grace because change is hard.
If you continue to notice that your child is struggling after being back at school for a few weeks, talk with your child’s teacher or guidance counselor about strategies to help your child succeed. You can also seek help from a professional therapist who can address those deeper challenges and work on coping strategies that can help them overcome struggles at school.
While change is hard and not always pleasant, teaching children how to embrace change is a skill that will help carry them through life. As we enter this new semester of an unconventional school year, help your child find their resilience to “grow where they are planted” and embrace the change as something good.