For little ones, as well as for their parents, the start of the school year can generate a good dose of stress. During a pandemic, all emotions can be heightened.
To avoid tears and teeth grinding, it is important to prepare for the return to routine. A few simple precautions in the days leading up to the end of the vacations should help you avoid or at least reduce the stress of going back to school
Change of pace
To ensure that your children are ready to go back to school when the time comes, the best thing to do is to gently return to a “normal” routine at least a few days before school starts.
The goal? To return to more or less the same rules that apply during the school year.
Have your children go to bed at a set time, not too late, and set the alarm clock to wake up a little earlier each day.
Try to eat at regular times. In short, be a little more disciplined than you would be on vacation!
This way, they’ll be better prepared for the stricter school year schedule and the shock of returning to school will be less brutal. And for you too!
Your children may have been on a variable schedule since mid-March, which is more than 5 months ago. It is normal that the return to a routine is difficult for them, as it is for you.
Take the time needed for this transition and accept that not everything is perfect. We are all in a period of adaptation!
To ensure that the start of the school year does not come like a bolt from the blue, it is also important to prepare your children mentally for this return to school life.
First of all, you can involve them in shopping for their school supplies. Turn this chore into a nice family outing to add a little joy to the process.
Before the big day, invite them to pick out their clothes ahead of time, or make a special request for their first lunch.
This way, they’ll find the prospect of back-to-school a lot less unpleasant! In fact, why not have a back-to-school party?
Consider making a special breakfast, taking your kids out to dinner, or planning a small gift to reward your youngster for a successful first day. After all, this is a special event and you can make it fun and attractive!
Your child can now accompany you to the store, but perhaps this will be more of a stressor than an enjoyable activity! You can do all that shopping online and just let your kids pick out a little something they like, whether it’s school supplies or clothes.
Get your kids involved in back-to-school shopping without adding to your own stress. You can also order a face cover that they like!
At the same time, take the opportunity to talk about wearing a mask on the school bus. It will be mandatory for high school students and recommended for elementary students.
Don’t forget to plan ahead for all the online shopping. You’ll find everything, but sometimes it can take longer than usual.
Getting to know the place
If your child is going to a new school this year, it may be a good idea to visit the school with him or her before the start of the school year to get a better idea of what to expect. If possible, visit the school with someone who knows it well.
If that’s not an option, try to familiarize yourself with the school grounds, locate the door he or she will need to use, or get to the bus stop. Not having to jump into the unknown can put a damper on many of his anxieties!
In most cases, school visits did not take place last spring. However, several schools did offer virtual tours. Please feel free to do so again before school starts. If not, take a walk with your child around their future school and imagine what it might be like inside. Then, visit the school’s website, where you may find a map and pictures.
Be a good listener
If your child is reluctant to go back to school, listen to his anxieties and reassure him. Above all, avoid putting more stress on your child than he or she is already under.
Even if your child’s success or involvement in school is a priority for you, this is probably not the right time to put pressure on him.
For now, try to focus on the aspects of school that appeal to the child, such as the fact that he or she will see friends again. There will be plenty of time to communicate your expectations throughout the year.
Also respect his needs. For example, on the first day, they may want you to accompany them, but they may also want to be independent.
As much as possible, don’t go against these wishes.
Children who are already in school usually look forward to that first morning of school: seeing all their friends in the yard, getting to know their group and teacher, and maybe even a little special entertainment! All of these elements are part of the back-to-school frenzy…
However, this year, back-to-school will be different. It is important to talk about it beforehand, so that there are no unpleasant surprises and too much sadness. There will certainly be other advantages to this new reality.
In order for the first day of school to go smoothly for you and your child, you need to be organized and make sure you do everything you need to do to prepare for the big day.
When it comes to back-to-school, there isn’t a child who wants to draw attention to himself because his parents have forgotten something important.
Not the best way to make a good impression, for him or for you! Here are some practical tips to avoid unnecessary anxiety:
Make sure your child has all the mandatory school supplies he or she needs before school starts.
Carefully review the documents given out at the end of the year or mailed in during the summer. Highlight important dates and instructions (meetings) and put them on your family calendar or in a planner.
Be sure to prepare any mandatory documents you may need.
If your child has a vision problem or other medical condition, make sure that his or her prescriptions are up to date and that the school has been properly notified of the problem.
Before the first day, try to locate the main areas of the school where your child will be going, such as the classroom, principal’s office or reception area.
The day before, pack lunches and put out the clothes your child will wear the next day. Also, fill their backpack and make sure you don’t forget anything.
On the big day, try to get up a little earlier than usual so that you have plenty of time to prepare. It is important not to arrive late, especially on the first day!
Finally, make sure you arrive on time in the evening when you return to pick up your child after the first day. If you already know that you won’t be able to arrive on time, tell the child or make an arrangement with someone you trust who already knows your child. If you choose the latter option, be sure to notify the facility.
Manage your own anxieties
If you are anxious about going back to school, it’s perfectly normal, but try not to let your child see it and don’t transfer your stress to him. If your child feels that his parents, his role models in life, are not in complete control of the situation, there is a good chance that he will have difficulty managing his negative feelings.
As a parent, you have to be brave! If you have to, give yourself time to take a break and channel your stress. The important thing is to show the children that back-to-school is a positive time and that you have everything under control. With your poise and relaxed attitude, there’s a good chance the kids will realize that back-to-school isn’t the end of the world after all!
Of course, this year, it’s hard to be in complete control… if not impossible! Try to get the information you need and remember that all parents and their children are experiencing this same level of uncertainty.
Remember that the children are happy to be back with their friends and their school environment. Yes, there will be changes, yes, the virus is still out there, but the reason the school is opening is because it is able to provide a safe environment.
We need to regain a sense of confidence so that the young and not so young have confidence as well and that they can go through another school year, adapting, yes, but also making great encounters, learning and making wonderful discoveries.