The pandemic is not over yet, and we are facing another school year that is just around the corner. Some families and children who are entering Kindergarten may face some challenges when going to school with COVID-19. Returning children may also face the similar challenges. This all adds to the initial stress of going back to school or facing a new environment. However, we are here to support and assist families and children as they go back to school. Here are five ways in which you can help your child deal with school anxiety during COVID.
1. Validate their feelings
There are many mixed feelings for children during transitions and it can be overwhelming for them. By identifying, validating, and acknowledging the feelings of children, it makes them stronger in their safest space with a trusted person. They will know that she/he is safe and taken care of no matter what. The parent, caregiver, or a guardian of the child must stay calm and strong so the children can lean on to feel the sense of safety and care.
2. Set the tone
Have conversations and intentional questions and answering sessions with children regarding going to or back to school. During those moment and time, set the tone. And lead the conversation calmly. Lead the questions and answers towards a positive ground. Asking questions should have positive words instead of negative or concerning ideas, for example, “Are you nervous about going to school next week?” Have a positive tone and if the child asks questions or shares concerns, answer with care, and validate and acknowledge their feelings.
3. Help them think positive
One of the biggest concerns for children and families during these transitions is the separation anxiety. Make sure the children know what they will be doing at school and what you will do during those times. One helpful tip for children is to have something small, a piece of home that they can take with them. Perhaps a random key that you can decorate with them, this will mean that home is always with them.
4. Practice Separating
It may sound harsh, yet it supports the sense of security, trust, and individualism. Start with small distances and space. Perhaps you can try to stay on the side while they are in the playground with some friends. You can walk around and let them know that you are close if they need anything. Have the child explore the space on his/her own ability. Once they are ok with that, you can take them to a close friend’s house and let them play on their own. Then you can move to a preschool or school space and let them explore on their own.
5. Have a routine
Setting a routine with children is a great practice for school. School systems are structured so setting up a predictable timeline for children that they can follow, will help them get ready physically and mentally for school. Transition to school can be challenging and stressful for children especially if they are unsure of what is next or expected. Try a game of pretend school!
We hope the above tips help your children transition smoothly into school. Always know that we are here to help if you need it. We look forward to welcoming all the kids back to Parkland Players!
Back to School Anxiety During COVID- How to help kids handle fears and gain independence. Child Mind Institute Retrieved July 9, 2021, from https://childmind.org/article/back-to-school-anxiety-during-covid/