It’s been over a year since Oregon schools transitioned to comprehensive distance learning. For some children, learning from home was a welcome break from school days that were difficult to navigate. For others, closing schools was a loss of a daily routine and an environment that they thrived in.
Change can be hard, even those who are excited about it. Children’s feelings about the transition to in-person school may be complicated and their reactions may change, even dramatically, over the next few weeks. Parents and caregivers will also likely have new feelings about it, which may not be the same as their kids’ reactions. Here are some ways to help your child with the transition:
- Remember the fundamentals. A regular pattern of a good night’s sleep and eating nutritious meals and snacks goes a long way to fuel flexibility, engagement and problem-solving during the day.
- Re-establish a morning and afternoon routine. Involve your child in deciding the details of the routine. Having opportunities for choice and agency makes handling uncertainty easier.
- If your child is in hybrid learning, a visual aid like a calendar can help them to understand what to expect.
- Ask your child what they are feeling or what you can do to support them. Knowing you recognize that this is an exciting and challenging time and that you are open to listening is reassuring, regardless of whether they have something to share in that moment.
- What your child is feeling may not be what you expect. Let them know that whatever they are feeling is OK.
- You may not be able to offer answers or certainties. Like adults, kids find it helpful to have someone who will just listen.
- If talking is not your child’s thing, think about drawing with them, playing/listening to music, playing catch, swinging, going for a stroll. Doing something often inspires communicating something.
- Your children might be worried about how to know what’s safe. Share with them, in a way that they can understand, how you are making your decisions about what is safe for your children and your family. Use trusted sources of information including and .
- Encourage them to think of what will be good about returning to school.
- Sometimes it is helpful for children to hear about how the adults in their lives are responding to their emotions. Consider sharing how you are feeling and what is contributing to it.
- Your child may be worried about bringing COVID home. Reminding them of what you all are doing to reduce the chances of infection can help them feel calmer.
- Let them know that you’re interested in what happened at school. Asking specific open-ended questions like, “What stories do you want to share about your school day?” or “Did anyone do anything funny today?” or “What do you think was the hardest part of the day?” can make it easier for your child to share about their day.
Here are some links to learn more:
- Back-to-School Anxiety During Covid
- Five key ways to support mental health during the COVID-19 outbreak and beyond
- If you think your child or family may need more support, contact your child’s primary care clinician or check out the Safe + Strong mental and emotional health resources page.