Our children ramp up with excitement for the 2021-22 school year amidst continued COVID concerns!
An interesting combination. Parents magazine, August, 2021, identified the top parental concerns heading into this upcoming year: social skills and friendships (45%), attention span and the ability to remain engaged (45%), mental health (43%), and motivation to do well (41%). “As we embark on a live, in-person school year, the relief is palpable, and yet, the pressure for our kids to make up for a ‘lost year’ is also immense,” Julia Edelstein, Parents.
One set of skills that our children have been practicing this past year is in resiliency! The number of changes and the COVID variant Delta spike creates feelings of stress and anxiety for both parents and children.
We invite parents to take a proactive role with this uncertain start to the school year as some things remain the same:
- Children take their emotional cues from their parents – get excited about what you are looking forward to. They will catch your excitement, and it will boost their confidence! Resiliency is created by moving towards what you are looking forward to as it is a great response to anxious thoughts. It is also helpful to teach your child to distinguish between what they are worried about and what may be reality. For example, “I am worried I won’t like the teacher,” can be responded to with the reality of, “I am sure there will be some things I like and don’t like about my new teacher.”
- Return early to routines – in this uncertain time, take control of what you can by introducing the school routine before school starts. Start with inching towards earlier bedtimes, serve breakfast and lunch at school hour times, have specific times for school-related activities like reading/writing/creative play. Playing school with younger children is very effective and gets them in the “mode.” Balancing screen time with physical movement will help as well.m
- Coach your children to “know themselves and their bodies” – this starts with strengthening conversation around their body cues. A rumbling tummy is a sign of a snack needed, an upset tummy could be a sign of nervousness, especially prior to the first day of school. Children can feel anxiety through tense body parts or a headache. Talking about reluctance to return to school can be a way of lowering anxiety. You may need to introduce these thoughts many times before your child catches on. Becoming aware of body signs and developing a strong language around feelings and needs creates resiliency.
- Set rules for school time expectations and goals – this could include rules around homework, screen time, meal help, etc. if children are young, have them tell you what needs to be done after school, including what is be turned in the next day, strengthening the task master in them. Screen time could be checking in after 20 minutes and brainstorming ways to be active. Children can help plan and prepare a meal, while teens can prepare their favorite dish for everyone. Peanut butter and jelly or macaroni and cheese never tasted so good as when your teen has prepared the dinner!
- Coach your children to know their own study preferences – help them to decide if they need a break right after school to “wind down,” or if they are best getting it done before enjoying the rest of their day. Are they best with a little background noise, or do they need absolute quiet to concentrate? This is another way of strengthening their self-mastery and overall resiliency skills. It is also a great way to reduce homework struggles.