We've been so happy welcoming our families back to school and transitioning the children into their new routines. After 18 months in a pandemic, there are so many new realities and for children, these can be especially overwhelming.
Some kids have been excited to go back while others have faced challenges they never knew before. Young children have spent the last 18 months mostly with their families and sometimes, only with their families. Their new norm is a narrowed circle of contacts and constant reminders about how to interact safely.
With younger children especially, this world is all they know because it's when they first entered the world of language, communication and understanding.
At HMS, we have been observing and navigating these transitions and we'd like to share some insights that may be helpful to families getting their little ones comfortable in the classroom again:
Validate their feelings
If a child is nervous or anxious about going back to school, let them know that this is perfectly normal, and you support them. Explain that the whole world is going through this with them, and together we have done amazing things together. Also let them know how proud you are that they are going back to school!
Lead by example
Anxiety fuels anxiety, and children especially feel their parent’s. Keep a positive attitude towards school and things getting back to normal. Try not to mention being nervous or anxious, and answer questions calmly. If you don't know the answers to any questions that come up, assure them you will find out and that everything is going to be okay.
Establish a routine at drop-off
Whether it be a certain parent, or a caregiver and the family dog always dropping off your child, consistency feels safe for them. Coordinate with a certain teacher to help with the hand-off if your child needs some extra reassurance. Once they engage with anyone from the school, give them praise for a great job done. Try not to draw out long goodbyes because they can feel better sooner once they are in their school routine again.
Now is a time of great transition for kids, and much of their last 18 months has been a challenge. Establish what your family & community believes & practices in safety measures, and stick to that communication. Kids remember how you frame the world for them so remain consistent in how you message staying safe, practicing hygiene, interacting with others, when you wear a mask* and anything else related to the new world we live in since a pandemic.
*informative and helpful article on helping your child more easily wear a mask.