We have all needed to be very flexible this year as we’ve navigated changes brought on by COVID-19, and nowhere is this truer than when it comes to the 2020-2021 school year. As teachers, parents, and administrators try to make thoughtful, safe decisions about how to best proceed, many parents may be left wondering how best to prepare their children for a school year that will feel very different from previous years.
By: Molly Holbrooks | LAMFT at Grow Counseling
Here are a few tips to keep in mind as your family prepares for the upcoming school year that could help smooth that transition!
Have a conversation.
Talk about it with your kids beforehand. Be honest about what you know, what you don’t know, and the parts that are still being decided. Be prepared for a variety of reactions — one moment they may be excited about a change, the next upset about a previously unforeseen aspect. As they process and experience what it’s actually like, everyone will find a sense of normalcy, but in the moment your job is just to create space for whatever they feel at that time. When possible, talk through the specifics of how things will be for the school year. Explore what types of things might look different for them. Are they involved in afterschool activities that aren’t meeting right now? Help them think through their day to day routine and what will be different for now, as well as what will be the same. Acknowledge that this is hard on everyone — them, you, their teachers, their friends.
Bold My Headings.
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Set up checkpoints.
Check in as they go to see how they’re doing — just opening the door to conversation is enough. If they have feelings and know you’re there to listen, they will tell you! Anytime the situation shifts, or the school sends updates on how things will be changing, there is the opportunity to check in with your kids on how they’re handling the status quo and what will feel different as it is adjusted. They may need help to see positives as they arise — things they might not have expected to like that turned out better than they thought.
Build your team.
Team up with other families who are handling things similarly to your family. If you are taking similar precautions with one of your kids’ friends’ families, see if you can arrange time to hang out. If that’s not a possibility for your family, but you can facilitate virtual time with a friend whose family is following the same precautions, it can significantly decrease feelings of isolation.
For more ideas about preparing your kids for a new school environment, go to GrowCounseling.com/resources.
Molly Halbrooks is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who works in the Suwanee area at Grow Counseling. She received her Masters of Family Therapy from Mercer University School of Medicine. She works with individuals and families dealing with a variety of concerns. She specializes in working with anxiety, life transitions like divorce or job change, grief and loss, trauma, and ADHD.