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Preparing Your Child to Return to School

"At many times throughout their lives, children will feel the world has turned topsy-turvy. It's not the ever-present smile that will help them feel secure. It's knowing that love can hold many feelings, including sadness, and that they can count on the people they love to be with them until the world turns right side up again."

— Fred Rogers

Many children are excited to return to school while many may find it difficult to adjust back to a normal daily routine. For some children, this will be their first experience on our campus. Whether your child looks forward to returning to school or you are anticipating that your child may have difficulty transitioning back to a normal routine, we are here to help you.

What does my child need from me to help ease the transition?

Your child needs to feel that he/she is safe in this world. Your child needs to feel they can trust that the people around them will take care of them.

How can I help my child feel safe and secure?

Compassion, connection, co-regulation and communication:

  • Get down to your child’s level and offer gentle touch/affection.
  • Use a calm tone, facial expression, and body language.
  • Share with your child the plan to return back to school. Use simple, concrete and age-appropriate language (less is more): 
    “Next week you will be going back to school/starting school. Some things may look a little different. Many things will look and feel the same. You will have new teachers. Their names are___. You will have new friends in your class. I will drive you to school. Your teachers will meet us at the gate and will show you to the classroom where you’ll meet all of your friends. You will read books with them, ride bikes with them, play with playdough, sing songs. What are you excited to do in school? If you need anything throughout the day, your teacher will help you. Your teacher is going to play with you and keep you safe. Daddy will pick you up when school is over. Mommy and daddy always come back.” 
  • Remind your child that the role of their caregivers and teachers is to keep them safe and that you trust the people who will be caring for them.

What else can I do?

  • In the two weeks leading to the start of school, talk to your child about returning to school. Make these conversations casual and brief. You can talk to your child while they color or while you take a walk. Do not talk to your child about this at bedtime. If your child doesn’t seem to be attentive, don’t force the subject. They probably heard more than you think.
  • Validate your child’s experience/feelings:
    • “You feel scared. I understand. New things can be scary sometimes/ Going back to school can sometimes feel scary.”
    • “You are sad. I get sad sometimes too. Let’s think about some ways that can make you better when you are feeling sad.”
  • Create a morning routine and practice it, at least two weeks leading up to the first day of school: wake up in the morning at the same time, get dressed, eat breakfast, brush teeth, pack a lunch and backpack.
  • Involve your child in the routine to help them feel more empowered: have them choose their own clothes, snack, water bottle (provide them with 2-3 choices so as to not overwhelm them).
  • You may also want to practice getting in the car and making a few trips to school so that your child becomes familiar with the route and the routine. Use the examples above to talk to your child as you drive to school.
  • Be flexible. Prepare for school to reopen, but also let your child know that plans may change: “We are planning to go back to school, but if school tells us it’s not time yet, we may need to wait a little longer.”
  • Practice mask wearing. Encourage your child to wear a mask, but don’t force them. Do it in a playful way and explain the reasoning behind wearing a mask: “masks keep germs away so that we can stay healthy.” You can have your child practice this while reading a book, while playing with puzzles, etc.
  • Read age-appropriate books to help your child learn what to expect. 

E-Books to Consider:

Additional Resources:

Talking to Kids About the Coronavirus Crisis

Helping Kids Face the Challenges of Reopening

Will My Child Bounce Back from the Coronavirus Crisis

How to Ask What Kids are Feeling

How to Think Through Choices About Grandparents, Day Care, Summer Camp, and More 

As the Start of School Approaches:

  • Your child’s teacher will share a template to create your own personal book -- An “all about me” going back to school.
  • Your teacher will share videos introducing themselves and the classroom/school.
  • You and your child will be invited to a Zoom Introduction class to meet your child’s classmates.
  • We will have a pickup party in the Reznik lot to practice Car-line, meet your teachers in person, and get some fun SWAG!

Corona-Related Questions

Sat, September 26 2020 8 Tishrei 5781