Preparing your children for the new school year during Covid-19
This back-to-school season is shaping up to be unlike any before. As children, parents, teachers, and schools approach the start of a new school year, there are still many questions about exactly what school might look like in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic.
With so many questions around school reopening, many parents don’t know how to prepare their children for the upcoming year. For guidance, we turned to Unicef (The United Nations Children’ Fund) and Boston Children’s Hospital.
Parents can use this moment to teach and model how to be flexible and use coping strategies for stress and times of uncertainty. While it’s hard to tell your children that you don’t know what will happen, it’s okay to be realistic with them. You can help them focus on the things they can control, such as how to wear a mask correctly and proper hand washing, rather than the list of things they can’t possibly know or control.
Children feel reassured when they know what plans are in place and what changes to expect. Every school district is making their own plans for how to open safely, so find out what the plan is for your school and then talk with your kids about what might be different.
Practising different scenarios ahead of time is a good way to give children a sense of control. And letting them know they can play an active role in the safety and well-being of everyone at school gives them something tangible they can do in a time of so much uncertainty.
Try to stay in regular contact with the school to learn what they are doing. Then you can walk through these scenarios with your children and discuss their questions and concerns.
As a parent, try to be flexible and forgiving with your children and yourself. This year is going to be harder for everyone: children, parents, teachers and schools. The goals we want to achieve may change as the year passes.
Parents can tell their children: “If anything changes, we will work as a team to come up with a new plan. We will figure out together how to keep you safe, but also how to keep you learning and connecting with other people.”
You’ll also want to talk to your children about what to do if they don’t feel safe or other children aren’t following the rules. They should know that they can talk to the teacher or tell you if that happens.