When schools across the country abruptly shut down their campuses in March, parents understandably found themselves with added stress. How do you teach a fifth-grader something you haven’t read about in twenty years? What can you give your kids to keep them occupied from nine to five?
As schools begin to release their plans for the 2020-21 school year, it’s important to make sure your child is prepared. Whether your child’s school plans to return to in-person learning or continue remotely, the world we live in is something children must be ready for.
Below, 11 thought leaders share their tips for helping your child go back to school after COVID-19.
Be in Communication With School Leadership
It is important that parents observe CDC health guidelines and recommendations concerning
COVID-19 and be in communication with their school leadership regarding what steps they are taking to ensure student safety. Both of these approaches should provide parents enough information to make a sound decision that they feel will work best for them and their families.
Lloyd Hopkins, Million Dollar Teacher Project
Teach Hygiene Basics
Understandably, parents may feel weary sending their children back to school with COVID-19 still fresh in everyone’s minds. Some of the best tips for parents to handle this are the same tips to avoid any kind of sickness. Teach kids how to wash their hands properly, sneeze or cough into their arm or shirt, promptly throw away their used tissues and mind other people’s personal space.
Denise Gredler, BestCompaniesAZ
Ensure They Have the Supplies to Be Safe
Going back to school can be scary for a child after all that has occurred surrounding COVID-19. One thing that is essential is making sure your child has the supplies to be safe. It is on the child to implement the instructions you give them, but it is on the parent to make sure they supply adequate items to keep their kids safe. Make sure your child has a mask, gloves and hand sanitizer in their backpack everyday before they leave for school. Make sure your child understands how to correctly wear the mask, put the gloves on and when to sanitize. It will be a dual effort on the part of the parent and child to be as safe as possible.
Dan Reck, MATClinics
Communicate with Your Child
Having an open line of communication with your child is going to be crucial when sending them back to school after COVID-19 restrictions are lifted. You need to talk with your child about the safety precautions they should be taking while at school. Let them know that just because the other kids may not be following guidelines, doesn’t mean they should do the same. It is also crucial that you allow your child to communicate any reservations or fears they may have regarding going back as well. Give them a space to express their concerns and collectively talk about how the child can overcome them and have a positive experience back in the classroom.
Kenna Hamm, Texas Adoption Center
Lead by Example
Parents should work on implementing atomic habits that enforce healthy behavior like wearing masks, washing hands, etc. Nothing is more effective than leading by example and being consistent. It is also important to calibrate your messaging in a way that children understand, which can be in the form of imagery, story, games, etc. Do not underestimate the power of novelty.
Lukas Ruebbelke, Briebug
Keep Kids Remote
As a dad of 3 young kids in Arizona, child safety is one of the top concerns in life. For years, you send the kids to school with other booger eating kids (no shame – one of my kids is a mysterious booger eater too!) and know that they’re going to catch what’s going around at school. But this time, it’s different because there’s too many unknowns. I’m planning on following the lead of workplaces and will keep kids remote for as long as employees stay remote. You have to believe that Arizona schools will afford children with some remote option. At least, I hope.
Brett Farmiloe, Education SEO Company
Discuss “How” and “Why”
Upon returning to school, I would suggest that parents have conversations with their children and explain the importance of “how and why” we are taking increased measures with COVID-19. A better understanding allows students to have meaning and purpose with their actions, and that conviction will keep their masks on when others choose not to participate. Purpose leads to productive results and a passion for protection.
Nykki Stenger, Insperity
Kids will have a rough time thinking about their feelings and emotions. The explanation for this is sometimes not because a kid has little to say, but because nobody asked them the right question.
Search for open-ended questions from the children that encourage dialogue. Suggested questions include:
- How do you benefit from heading back to school?
- What instructors and friends are you ready to see?
- What are things that will be easy about going back to school? What’s going to be tough?
Make sure to start the discussion once your child is already back at home. Avoid asking closed questions that they can easily address with a yes or no; concentrate on discussing what was good, what was terrible, who they communicated with and whether they’re looking forward to being back at school tomorrow or the next day.
Lesley Reynolds, Harley Street Skin Clinic
Approach It as an Ongoing Conversation
My wife and I are focused on getting our little daughter prepared to return by taking a holistic approach. From a physical standpoint, this looks like instilling habits designed to mitigate risk. We wash hands when we get home, wear a mask in public and model how it should be worn. Emotionally, we approach it as an ongoing conversation where we prep her for what to expect. From the probability of masks to being patient with the time that mitigation takes in a Pre-K setting. With our child being routine driven, this repetition is important to set her expectation.
Steven Brown, DP Electric
Keep Kids Inspired
Once your kids return to school, plan activities that keep them motivated in fun and enjoyable ways. This may be part of the daily schedule, such as making them play video games or enjoying their favorite snack when they come home from classes.
During the lockdown, if your kids were doing more of those ‘fun’ things, this could also help to reduce the sense of change they’ll feel. You should use that as an extra way to comfort the kids by reflecting on what has been steady over the last months.
Seek to retain social gatherings with this in mind that you might have set up during the lockdown. Whether you’re playing a board game together every evening for an hour or enjoying a stroll around the street, keep doing such. The completion of the lockdown doesn’t suggest you’re going to have to go back to any of your old ways, but make sure to maintain any of the good improvements you might have put into your life.
Dr. Vikram Tarugu, Detox of South Florida
Set a Good Example
Parents should treat this pandemic as a teaching moment and lead by example prior to their children returning to school. The parents should wear a face mask when around others, be socially distancing, and wash their hands often. This practice sets a good example for the children that are watching. Parents should also have a discussion with their kids about preparing them for the different safety protocols now enforced at school. It is a good idea to continue this dialogue with the children daily as the school year progresses to see how well they are coping with these new procedures.
Craig Rosen, InterviewFocus