Going Back To School 2021
Preparing to go back to school is a yearly ritual, however this year may be more anxiety driven for children and families. Most students have not been inside a classroom in over a year so the number of emotions can be higher than normal. How can parents prepare for this school year?
Parents need to avoid labeling emotions kids are having. For example, “You may be scared”, “You may be nervous”. Parents should lead with open ended questions and let children tell parents what they are feeling.
Roll playing with puppets or plastic people could be a great way for children to act out what they are feeling inside. This strategy is what many therapists call play therapy. It allows the child to assign roles to the puppets or playthings and speak out loud the emotions they are having.
It allows the parent to play the teacher and other students and you can role play the scenarios children think they may experience when school starts.
Drop offs can be hard as well (even for the parents). This will be especially hard for all the children that did not go to school last year and have some memory of being dropped off.
To prepare for successful drop offs, this can be modeled through play as well. Another option is to plan special goodbye routines. You do not want these routines to be long as drop offs / goodbyes should be short and sweet.
When goodbyes linger it can give the child a sense that you are hesitant and apprehensive for the separation too. By practicing the drop off beforehand it can help the child feel more familiar and confident for the first day of school.
You can even go to the school before the first day and show your little student the playground they will be dropped off at. There are so many neighborhood apps that can help you find someone in your child’s class.
Having a buddy before the first day of school can help a child feel more confident going into a new classroom. When your child already has a friend in class it should lower their anxiety levels. Preparing for the first day of school can help decrease everyone’s stress level.
Going back to school creates so many great memories. Creating these memories with less stress is a great way for students to succeed and enjoy going to school. The love of learning starts young, and the goal is to make children lifelong learners.