The Transition Back to School
September brings with it the realization that we are still living within the confines of COVID-19 restrictions. As families transition into this new school year, it’s a reminder of how challenging this “new normal” can be for children and parents. It’s a parent’s role to help children manage their stress; This can be especially difficult as parents process their own feelings about the pandemic, racism, school, finances, the election, and the other complexities of fall 2020. When adults feel overwhelmed, children can pick up on those emotions. Frustration and grief are normal – this is not how anyone expected to be starting school. By checking in with yourself and the things causing you stress, you’ll be better equipped to help your children.
- Develop a routine and stick to it.
Routines are important for a child’s sense of security. Help children know what to expect each day by talking about your schedules. Wake up at the same time, get dressed, and eat breakfast before school starts. Pack lunches the night before, even for virtual school, for one less thing to worry about during the day. Make sure computers are charged, passwords are accessible, and the learning space is uncluttered. As children transition into their schedule, families will feel more at ease with the tasks at hand when there is a plan in place.
- Celebrate wins, big and small.
Children are encouraged by positive reinforcement. Pick a few behaviors to track with your children; This might include logging into virtual school programs on their own, getting assignments in on time, or sticking to their schedule. For parents, this can mean completing a work assignment, landing a deal, or having an uninterrupted conference call. Celebrate by having an after-dinner dance party, a favorite food for dinner, or a family movie night.
- Get outside.
Take a walk every day, even if it’s only around the block. Recharge in nature on your days off; This can be in the neighborhood park, a road trip to the woods, or a trip to the beach. Changing scenery and experiencing the expansiveness of nature can be an impactful way to reset.
- Connect with trusted friends.
Use your support system. Turn to friends to get and give encouragement. We are parenting in unprecedented times where we are expected to be all things, at all times, within the walls of our homes. The challenges of the times are a shared experience. Having a group chat with trusted friends can be an important resource to help you stay grounded and connected.
Abby Bronstein, LSW, MFT, is a staff therapist at our University City office; she currently sees clients via online therapy. To set up an appointment, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 215-382-6680 ext. 7011.