The 2021–22 school year is here, and with it comes a new set of challenges. Between considerations over how and where kids will learn this year, the continued spread of COVID-19 and its variants, and rising concerns around student mental health, parents and educators have a lot on their plate.
Whether students are receiving socially distanced in-person learning, remote learning, or a hybrid model, here are some tips for parents and educators to help ensure a smooth start to the school year:
- Create routines: Change is stressful, especially for kids, and the last year and a half has been filled with nonstop change. As we enter a new school year, parents and educators should focus on developing as much structure as possible. Make a colorful poster or checklist with sleep, meal, school, and screen time schedules to help ground kids so they will know what to expect. Feel free to include them and make it a craft project. This will also give them a sense of autonomy and independence.
- Address nervous feelings: Students may begin experiencing separation or COVID-19 anxiety. Leaving parents for the first time after being home for so long, wearing masks, distancing from peers and teachers, and extensive hand washing and sanitizing—any of these things can bring on stress. Be aware of physical symptoms, such as headaches and stomachaches, as these may be indicators of anxiety. Make yourself accessible to kids, but also give them adequate space. Make it clear that you are available to talk about how they are feeling while also allowing them time to process. Modeling coping behaviors, such as taking deep breaths and setting small goals and boundaries, will also set a good example for them in dealing with stress.
- Let them ask for help: Establishing that it is okay to ask for help—whether from parents, teachers, or counselors—is crucial. Communication, especially at the beginning of the year, will help everyone. An additional resource to tap is a therapist. Therapy can help students learn these coping skills through evidence-based practices, giving them much-needed support during these trying times.
There are many organizations providing information to support students through this transition. Check out some of these sites to learn more about how to help students navigate this tricky back-to-school season:
- Back-to-School Resources for Families and Educators
- Back-to-School Tips for Parents
- Back to School? Tips to Help Kids Adjust to In-Person Class Post-COVID
- How to Help Your Child Adjust to Going Back to School This Fall
- Preparing for Back to School in 2021
- Supporting Your Child’s Transition Back to School
- The Parents Guide to Back to School 2021
Some kids will need additional support as they return to school this year—Gaggle Therapy can help. Our solution provides an easy way for districts to support student mental health through ongoing teletherapy sessions at no cost to students or their families. Reach out to us for more information about our teletherapy service.