With schools across Alberta set to resume shortly after months of being closed due to COVID-19, many children are expressing concerns and anxiety around returning. While the number of new infections is trending slightly upward in the province, parents, students and teachers may all be apprehensive about what kind of impact the start of the school year will have on those numbers.
If your child is returning to school in person this fall, your biggest concerns will be keeping them safe, and calming any fears they may have, whether related to COVID or not. Aside from pandemic concerns, students have been away from classrooms for longer than they ever have before since beginning kindergarten. This alone could be a reason for an increase in anxiety. Below, we provide tips for parents to help their children adjust to the new school year while keeping them physically safe.
Perhaps the biggest change kids will face this year is the requirement for all children in grades 4-12 to wear masks when they cannot practice physical distancing (masks are optional for younger children). In order to prepare young kids for this, it may be helpful to get them used to the idea before school starts. If parents have previously avoided taking their kids along when running errands, it might be helpful to bring them so they can practice wearing masks in stores, and get used to seeing other people wearing them. It may also be helpful to allow kids to choose their own cloth masks, so they have some agency in the matter. This may make them more likely to want to wear it when parents are not around as well.
There are a number of other habits parents should discuss with their children in advance, so they are not surprised at school. Talking to your kids about washing their hands and not touching their face is extremely important, especially for younger children. Physical distancing will also be key. Discuss how your kids can reunite with their friends while avoiding hugs or high fives. Lastly, kids at school will not be permitted to share supplies, which will seem to be in direct contrast from all of the lessons they’ve been taught about the importance of sharing.
Having honest conversations about all of these issues with your children, and allowing them to ask questions and express frustrations will help to ensure they know what to expect when they walk back into schools in September. Mental preparation for the new school environment will go a long way to helping them adjust.
The older we get, the more quickly time seems to pass. So much so that we often forget how long summer break can feel when you’re 8, 9 or 10 years old. Kids across Canada have now been out of school for six months, which must seem like a lifetime in their eyes. The significance of this break from the school routine may exacerbate any anxieties some children tend to feel at the start of any new school year, what with a new teacher, new classmates and new things to learn. Below are some tips on how to help your child with any anxieties they might be experiencing before they go back to school:
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