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PREPARING FOR A ‘NEW NORMAL’ SCHOOL YEAR

TIPS FOR GETTING YOUR CHILD READY

The 2020 – 2021 school year was unprecedented, as most children and teachers moved to a virtual-learning setting and had to adapt to balancing life at home and in a virtual classroom.
   

As the world enters a new normal for the 2021 – 2022 school year, many schools are reopening and kids are heading back to the classroom. It’s been a while since children and parents have had a traditional academic year, which means back-to-school may look a little different this fall.
  

Many kids have now adapted to virtual or hybrid schedules, flexibility, and keeping a distance from their friends. Here are a few tips and tricks for students headed back to the classroom this fall, including how to help them get ready to return.
  
Kids wearing mask
     

BACK TO SCHOOL TIPS
   

  • Continue preventive measures. At least at first, most safety precautions and preventive measures such as masking, social distancing, and practicing hygiene habits will likely remain. Talk to your child about the importance of continuing to wear their mask and wash or sanitize their hands regularly. Some schools will continue to have a hybrid or adjusted schedule in order to maintain social distancing in the classroom, but others will return to a full-time, traditional schedule. Either way, your child should know about preventive measures they can take for their health and the health of those around them.
       
  • Be understanding. Not all children were able to embrace the virtual learning environment, and experts know there could be gaps in the learning and education that children experienced over the past year. Your child’s teachers recognize this and will take the time necessary to ease back into normalcy, while also helping to make up for the losses. Don’t get frustrated with your child if they struggle to complete homework or don’t perform well on tests. Instead, help them to understand it’s okay and be patient when helping them.
       
  • Talk to their teacher. Teachers and other school support staff will have the best recommendations to help your child return to school, and they will also have answers to any of your questions. Ask if you can schedule a tour of the classroom and about rules of social distancing, hand washing, etc. Regularly communicating with your child’s teacher can help ensure you know how your child is doing and how you and the teacher can best support them.
        
  • Get excited. If you’re excited and not showing hesitation or anxiety, your child will follow your lead. Share your excitement about the ability for your child to return to school to learn and be with their friends and others. Let them know it’s a good thing, and they shouldn’t be worried or feel uneasy. Also be sure they know you’ll be there to help and support them every step of the way.

Always wash hands
     

GETTING YOUR CHILD READY
    

1. Establish a new routine. The past year has likely shaken up many routines you and your child had, especially when it comes to school. A few weeks before school starts, start them on a new bedtime and wake-up schedule. Develop a morning routine that’s comfortable and calm to help make the transition of back-to-school easier. Try creating a visual schedule of new morning and after-school routines and keep it in a place the child can see, such as on the fridge.
  

2. Start slow. Not only were the last couple school years strange, but your child is also coming back from summer break. Start introducing the concept of and preparing for back-to-school slowly, but don’t start too early. Talking about it for weeks in advance can contribute to anxiety about going back. Instead, ease them into the new routines and idea of returning.
   

3. Tell them what to expect. Some children may need a little more preparation, such as those who didn’t attend preschool in the fall but will be attending kindergarten this year. Be flexible with your child’s needs but give them all of the information they may need to be successful. Be clear about what they can expect from this school year, such as returning full time or with a hybrid schedule. Make sure they understand any precautions they must take in the classroom, such as social distancing. Also help them to understand expectations such as their classroom and schedule, following certain routines, or doing homework.