This article was originally published in St. Luke’s Penn Foundation’s August 2021 newsletter and is reprinted with permission. Penn Foundation is a Mosaic Conference Related Ministry.
Over the last year-and-a-half, families have had to adjust to online learning. But as a new school year approaches, families must shift gears once again back to in-person learning. While many students will feel excitement, relief, and joy, others may feel nervous and overwhelmed. Socializing with peers, meeting teachers’ expectations, tests, and projects are just a few examples of what may cause anxiety for returning students.
As you consider how to support your children as they prepare to return to school this fall, keep in mind their resilience as they faced the challenges of COVID-19. They did it! Help your children identify their feelings about returning to school and validate those feelings. Explore and model healthy coping skills such adequate sleep, a healthy diet, time outside, and daily exercise. Maintain a flexible routine that allows for some down time and connection with you. Be playful and have fun with your children, creating memories and making the most of these summer days.
If your children is feeling anxious, remember that anxiety often stems from fear of the unknown and that anxiety is a normal emotion during any change, even a positive or preferred one. Here are a few suggestions of open-ended questions to help start a conversation with your children to explore the unknown, their thoughts and feelings about returning to school, and ways you can support them.
- What do you think it will be like going back to school this year?
- What will be different about this school year?
- What are you most excited about?
- What are you most worried about?
- What are your goals for this year?
- How can I support you at the start of this new year?
Helping your children identify their thoughts and feelings will help you create a game plan together to ease this transition and embrace this new beginning of another school year.