We know transitions can be challenging. If your child will be returning to school soon, here are some ideas on ways to prepare and support your child.
Give your student as much advance notice as possible regarding the change. While we know that things can change quickly during these difficult times with little notice, any chance you have to prep your child for the change, please take it.
Encourage your child to talk openly about any concerns he or she may have about the transition. You might ask, “When you think about going back to school every day, what do you think about? What questions do you have?” Then make a list of thoughts and questions and talk through them one by one.
Let your child know it is natural to feel apprehensive. He or she may be fearful of work expectations or what it will be like to be with students they haven’t seen in person all year. Share childhood memories of times when you were worried about a new situation. Relate the good things that happened like how you met your best friend or how you connected with teachers.
Keep the days leading up to the transition as positive as possible. Stress that he or she is very capable of going to school five days a week. The night before the first full day back, have your child lay out everything needed for school. The next morning allow time to get ready in a calm manner.
If your child indicates worry about the virus, stress the importance of the safety measures that will be in place and the work the school has taken to keep everyone safe.
Remember that adjustments take time and that your child may need time to establish a regular sleeping pattern, morning routine, and increase their stamina for school work. Your attitude can help your child; let him or her know you are confident in his ability to adjust well.
Stay connected to the teacher. If you are worried that your child will struggle with the transition back to full time learning, let the teacher know your concerns prior to the start. Together you can proactively work on a plan to assist your student.
Remind your child of the positive experiences he or she had prior to hybrid learning. If you have pictures, pieces of schoolwork they did or special stories, share these prior to the return.
Because children have spent so much extra time at home with parents and guardians, separation anxiety can be elevated, making saying “goodbye” extra tough. Instead of saying goodbye, perhaps say something like, “See you later after school when I pick you up. I can’t wait to hear about your day!” This way, you explicitly affirm to your child that you will see him or her again at the end of the day.
Consider leaving a note for your child each day the first week or so to give them words of encouragement or to just bring a smile to their face. Younger students may enjoy having a note in their lunch box with a simple joke or fun drawing. Older students may appreciate emails or text messages letting them know that you are thinking of them.
Understand that your child may need extra time, attention and support to adjust to this transition. When there is a change, he or she may regress to an earlier developmental stage. Plan time for family fun because when transitions occur, families are a necessary source of love and support.
Invite your child to express his or her emotions. Even when a concern seems minor to you, be respectful and know that it can be a major crisis to your child. Try to put yourself in his or her place and understand the feelings expressed. Ask open ended questions like, “How’s it going?” or make comments like, “You seem sad.” Then listen carefully and avoid giving advice unless your child asks for it.
Always seek help from your student’s principal, teacher, or school counselor. Our staff knows that this change may be a challenge for some and stands ready and willing to support you and your student at any time.
Download a PDF of this handout, created by Dublin City Schools in Ohio.