As time ticks down to the start of the new school year, most parents are in one of two camps: the moms and dads who groan inwardly every time they think about stocking up on their students’ school supplies, or the parents who are gleefully looking forward to sending their kids out the door with stocked backpacks and lunchboxes. But a lot of parents are in the same place in one respect: They’re sending children back to school for a full year in the classroom, something they have not done in more than a year. As the countdown ramps up, there are ways to help kids transition back to school for in-person learning.
In the spring of 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic sent Michigan students home to finish the year virtually. Last fall, students at many schools across the state had options that included virtual classes they could do from home, in-person learning, or a hybrid schedule with some of both. Face masks, social distancing and lots of handwashing were included in the hybrid and in-person settings.
This school year, children may feel like heading back to the classroom full-time is a new experience. Helping them transition into this phase should start before the first day of school arrives. Let’s look at some things parents can do to help kids ease into the process.
It’s all about the routine. Summer vacation is often a time of throwing routines out the window. Bedtimes disappear, some kids sleep in every day and breakfasts aren’t always super nutritious. Getting kids into a back-to-school routine should be done gradually, several days before school starts. Try these simple steps:
- Set bedtimes a little earlier each night, until you reach the school-night bedtime your child should have.
- Do the same for wake-up times, having kids set their alarm clock a little earlier each morning.
- Have children lay out their clothes and shoes the night before. It makes school mornings less stressful.
- Have kids prep their backpack or school bag each night before bed.
- Do they take their own lunch? Have them put non-perishable food items out on the counter the night before.
Social skills. For kids who spent months staring at a computer screen in video chats as part of a virtual classroom, they might need to brush up on their social skills. Reminders on basic niceties like saying please and thank you, not interrupting others, and making sure to give people their personal space can be helpful before young kids are released back into a classroom.
Social distancing. Many schools still will be reinforcing social distancing behaviors this fall. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that parents talk to young children about how this might look when they go back to the classroom. Here are some ways to prep your students:
- Talk to your child about washing their hands more often at school.
- Encourage them to use hand sanitizer at school.
- They should avoid sharing objects like water bottles, computers or tech devices, writing instruments and books.
- Advise them to tell an adult if they don’t feel well.
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