The start of a new school year can be a pretty exciting time! Shopping for new school clothes and shoes, picking out that perfect new backpack, and enjoying those last few days of summer before that first school bell rings can really be something to look forward to. In addition to the school shopping and holding on to those last few seconds of summer, parents may be prepping their children for a new school year environment.

Through the 2020 school year, many schools were shut down, and some went completely virtual. Parents had to adjust to online learning, figure out schedules, and deal with having most of the family home. Parents found themselves readjusting between their work schedule, and balancing children’s virtual and in-person learning. As 2021 continues to zoom by, questions may arise in relation to what to expect for the upcoming 2021-2022 school year.

With the COVID-19 case numbers continuing to rise, many children and their parents might find themselves anxious about the upcoming school year. Christian Ware, Senior Director of Solutions for Canopy Children’s Solutions (Canopy), shares a few tips on how to approach the new school year.

“Be honest with your children, and start talking about the upcoming school year sooner rather than later,” said Ware. Preparing children mentally and listening to their feelings and concerns about returning to a school environment may help relieve anxiety. Ware stated, “Kids will need time to learn how to reengage socially which may cause anxiety, so try to encourage them to interact as much as they feel comfortable.”

According to Ware, some children may need help adjusting by preparing ahead of time. “Allowing them to walk through their day with you as parents, verbalize any anxieties, and talk through any stressful or anxious moments can help,” said Ware.

While learning to adjust to an unchartered school year, getting into a routine could greatly help make things run smoother. Having a realistic summer schedule can help ease in to transitioning back to school. Creating a schedule with your child that includes fun activities, educational activities, breaks, and a curfew would not only help increase productivity during the summer, but make it easier to adjust to a school schedule. “Establishing structure ahead of time can help children to acclimate better when they reenter school and can decrease a lot of the anxiety and resistance when they return”, stated Ware. Understanding that when there is already a plan in place, only minor modifications are needed to make the shift from summer break to the school year.

The new school year will bring some unknowns, but being as prepared as possible can give you the best shot at having a successful first day. Speaking with your children and maintaining a schedule can definitely help things stay on track. Going back to school can still be an exciting time, and learning how to manage stress and anxiety of the upcoming year can make a huge difference. Ultimately, staying positive and remaining hopeful can help parents and kids be ready when that first school bell rings.