(Ohio) – Whether you’re sending your child back to school this year or they’ll be learning remote, keeping them focused with all that’s going on in the world may prove challenging.
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Many children find a sense of normalcy and routine in school, but this year will be anything but either. With many districts across the state opting to give families a choice between in-person and remote learning, it can be assumed student body sizes will be reduced. This, of course, takes students away from friends they may have been counting on spending time with.
And even for those students attending school in a traditional format, there will be little tradition about it. From reduced class sizes to bans on water fountains and high-gathering areas like the cafeteria, assemblies, and hallways…school may feel like a foreign experience. So, how do we as parents help our children cope emotionally with so many changes? According to Jons Hopkins, there are a few things we can try.
1.) Don’t shy away from talking about the “elephant in the room.” No matter what grade your child is in, he/she is bound to notice that things are different. Experts recommend that parents and guardians be open and honest in developmentally appropriate ways. This approach helps our kids connect with us, see that it’s okay to not have all of the answers and to help them develop coping mechanisms as they navigate all of the changes. Ask your kids what their favorite part about each day was as well as what challenges they faced.
2.) Try for as much structure as possible. For those sending their kids back to school, you’ll have a team via the school personnel to help you accomplish this. But, the days still may be chaotic at times. Be sure to implement consistent time each day for homework. If sports are affected again this year, how will you help your child fill that void? For those choosing to do remote learning with their kids, set up an area designated for learning in your home and plan the day with different learning activities and subject focuses as well as breaks and fun activities.
3.) Let your child feel their emotions. According to unicef, it is likely many children will feel a sense of disappointment heading back to school with so many changes. If your child is sad, experts say, to let them be sad. Be ready to support, expect, and normalize that your child is sad and frustrated. Show empathy let them know they aren’t alone and that you’re there to talk.
4.) Check in with them about what they’re hearing. Officials say there is still a lot of misinformation circulating about the coronavirus disease. Experts at unicef recommend checking in with your children regularly to learn about what they are hearing and what they believe to be true. But, it’s not enough just to tell them facts because if they’ve picked up something inaccurate it’s important to find out and address those misunderstandings directly.
5.) Monitor your own behavior. As parents, we too have a lot of things to worry about, but it’s important that we remember to lead by example. That doesn’t mean being perfect, but being aware. Our children will take emotional cues from us, unifef adds. Parents are encouraged to do what they can to manage their anxiety in their own time and try not to overshare their fears and concerns with their children. Our kids rely on us to provide a sense of safety and security. While it’s important to be open, there are some things our children simply do not need to know.
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