Transition Back to School: What to Expect

Category: Play Therapy

The last year and a half have been challenging on many levels, not the least of which was online schooling. The abrupt transition from in-person learning to online learning left many students, parents, and teachers unprepared for this shift. Reports from some students are that they did not like online learning, felt they did not learn anything, were not able to focus, and missed being in the classroom with the teacher and peers.

At the end of this past school year, students were given the option to return to school in a hybrid format which a percentage of students accepted. While returning to at least a partial in-person format, some students found that it did feel the same and hoped for a more traditional experience in fall 2021.

As the new school year approaches, there will most likely be an adjustment period. At first, students will most likely be excited to be back at school with their friends. But they may have difficulty sitting still during class or trouble focusing. This is to be expected after over a year of online learning at home.

Additionally, if masks are mandated due to the recent increase in COVID cases, students may struggle with wearing a mask all day. Other changes that may be in place could include limited contact with friends during school hours, reduce recess activities or even time during recess, and social distancing rules.

Once you have notification from the school district of what protocols will be enforced, discuss these with your children so they are prepared and not surprised on that first day of school. Some districts may even offer continued online learning for those students who choose not to return to school in person. Again, this is a discussion to have with your child to explore any worries or fears about returning to school.

Lastly, if your children are struggling after a period of adjustment, it would be good to explore support for them either at the school level or privately through counseling, or both! This is an unprecedented school year that no other generation has experienced. Be patient, be supportive, and be an advocate for your child’s needs.

Michelle A. Culver, LMFT