As the new school year begins in the next week or two, many children are struggling with how different this school year will be given the current COVID-19 restrictions. Parents are, in turn, struggling with how to make it a positive transition for their children. One might ask, how can I make the transition back to school a good one?
While the structure and feel of school may be different, don’t lose your back-to-school traditions. If you typically go school shopping for new clothes and supplies, do that! But maybe it’s only a few new shirts because that is all that will show on the Zoom classes.
As for supplies, they are still needed though they may be a little different. For example, you may want to get some blue light glasses to help with the amount of time your child will be looking at the screen for online schooling. These glasses reduce the glare and amount of blue light you child absorbs, plus they are not a prescription and can be found online.
The normalcy of back-to-school shopping, even if it’s online, will trigger the memories of past years and signal to your child that the school year is beginning.
Parents might now ask, what about my children dreading the online format? Unfortunately, there is not a choice in being online right now. But they can choose to have a special background when online to identify their interests (favorite TV show, movie, or video game), like one would with a binder, backpack, or lunchbox.
It is also important to set up an area that is your child’s designated workspace for school. It can be a desk in your child’s room or a corner of the kitchen where there is a separate table. Let your child set it up as they would if it were a desk at school, maybe add some decorations to personalize the area. This will allow your child to take ownership of the space and feel good about working there.
One of the biggest concerns and complaints is that they will not get to see or talk to their friends. Social connections are a significant part of school and children are feeling the loss of that connection. As parents, it is important to find ways for your children to keep those connections.
Some families have Zoom meetups to watch a sporting event or movie together, others are doing social distancing picnics or bike rides. If your child is old enough, having their own phone to connect with friends through texting or playing team-based video games can help them feel connected to their friends and that they are not alone.
Above all, talk to your children to see what they feel would make going back to school a positive transition and support them in choosing some ways to create an individual space to learn. If your child seems to be struggling with increased anxiety or depression around COVID-19 or returning to school, contact Treehouse Counseling to get support. We are here to help.
Michelle A. Culver, LMFT