Calming Back to School Jitters due to the Pandemic | Tips for Parents and Teachers

Nervous about going back to school?

We all are! This year’s back to school time is going to be more anxiety-filled than ever before thanks to the virus and the ongoing pandemic. But, there are a few things you can start doing early that will help calm your child’s nerves and help them go into the school year feeling confident and safe.

And, teachers can reiterate these points at Back to School Nights and other events.

back to school nerves

Back to School Nerves

  1. Explain How Everyone Will Be Working to Stay Safe-Once you learn what your child’s school will be doing to help keep children and teachers safe from the virus sit your child down and explain it to them. Go through every role from what will be happening on the bus, the cafeteria, the classroom and up to what will be expected of them, and their fellow students. Tell them what they should be doing during recess and lunch to stay safe and remind them that they should wash their hands or use hand sanitizer after every break. Answer any questions they might have and, if they ask a question you don’t know the answer to, behonest with them. Tell them you don’t know, but that you will get in touch with the school and find out.
  2. Give Them the Tools to Feel More Comfortable-Hopefully, your school will have guidelines for things like the use of masks and hand sanitizer. If they don’t then get in touch with the school to find out what their policy is on these items. You don’t want to turn your child into a germophobe, but you do want to make sure they have the ability to keep themselves safe while they’re at school. So, when you find out what they will be allowed to use at school put together a little “staying safe kit.” This kit can include things like antibacterial wipes, hand sanitizer, and a mask. Be sure your child knows how to use each of the items in the kit and let them know that they can use them anytime they want, but, they should also know when the best times to use them are.
  3. Open Communication and Keep it Open-When you tell your kids that they have a date for going back to school ask them how they feel about the idea of going back to school. Ask them how they feel about going back to school and remind them of all the fun things they’ve not been able to do in a long time. Remind them that if they’re feeling nervous about school that is ok and perfectly normal. Also, remind them that they can always come to you to talk about how they’re feeling. After the initial talk ask them maybe once a week or so if they’re excited to go back to school. It’s a non-threatening way to gauge their anxiety about going back.
  4. Keep Your Nerves in Check-It is perfectly natural for you to feel anxious about your kids going back to school right now. But, it is also important that you keep your nerves in check. If your children see you going around and being nervous that will add to their own anxieties and possibly create a problem where there wasn’t one before. If your child asks you if you’re nervous about them going back to school, don’t lie to them, tell them that you are a little bit, but that you trust the adults in their school will do their best to keep everyone safe.
  5. Offer Reassurance Early and Often-Finally, if your children are nervous about going back to school do your best to reassure them from the first moment you see the issue and keep reassuring them anytime you see them sinking into their anxiety. Do your best to reassure them that they will be ok. One way to reassure them is to have them show you how they use hand sanitizer or antibacterial wipes, or even how to put on a mask. Little tasks like these will pull them out of their heads and give them a little boost in confidence as they prove that they know how to keep themselves safe.
  6. Talk with your {disabled} child’s health care providers– You want to do whatever you can to keep your high-risk child safe. That may include extra precautions. But, you also want to do whatever you can to not feed anxieties and still be safe. The focus should be on how to live our new normal.

I hope this helps. Know that you are not alone in these back to school anxieties. We all have to adjust to a new way of living. Experts are telling us that this will last 1-2 years, so we have to adjust to some semblance of normalcy while being as safe as possible.

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