With the season of change and uncertainty that has come along with the pandemic since March 2020, many students may be feeling confused, nervous, scared, frustrated, or even unsure about their feelings as they head back to class this school year. With mandates changing seemingly by the minute, their feelings are perfectly understandable and should be validated! Apex Leadership Co. offers some suggestions for parents and teachers to help their students ease back into in-person learning this school year.

Talk it Out — First and foremost, parents should open dialogue with their children to see how they feel about returning to on-campus learning. Parents can start a conversation and encourage their children to express any concerns, worries, or fears. Sometimes simply talking it out can help children feel better. For deeper issues, parents may consider coming up with a strategy to help ease their kids back into in-person school (including the tips below). They may even want to seek the help of a school or private counselor. Parents must make it clear that they are available to their children when they need to talk or feel they are struggling.

Take it Slow — Teachers and parents may need to give children some grace as they re-enter a regular school year — some for the first time in well over a year. Keep in mind that at any stage in a child’s growing years, there is instrumental development that comes with a classroom setting, interacting with other students and teachers, and the social opportunities that going to school provides. Without access to these things, students may feel they have missed out or have fallen behind. Reassurance is key during this time, and it’s also important that parents and teachers provide resources and opportunities to help students feel reconnected and “caught up.”

Create a Routine — Many children thrive on routine and find it comforting when they know what to expect. After such a long period of experiencing a lax or less structured daily schedule, building in some routine may help soothe some back-to-class anxieties. Start implementing a wake-up time, a bedtime (even for older ones, though the time itself can be age-appropriate and serve as an “electronics off” time that will encourage restful sleep). After school, schedule some study time with a friend or two, if possible, to provide socialization in a safe environment, and also make time for free time, bath time, reading time, and quiet time.

Set Some Goals — Putting some school-related goals down on paper can help kids get motivated and excited for the school year. These goals should be set with intention but not implemented with too much pressure. Goals could be reading more, getting an “A” in a favorite subject, waking up 15 minutes earlier each day to have a less stressful morning, creating a new club or group on campus, or simply making a new friend.

Consider Other Options — If a child is still struggling with heading back to class, consider the possibility that an online or virtual education format may be best suited for the long term. Perhaps the family could consider what virtual options their school may offer, look into a different school that offers an online format, or research homeschooling their child.

With many schools re-opening their doors early this month only to be changing their rules on mask requirements and social distancing just days or weeks into the school year, this is definitely a challenging time for students. While the hope for a “back to normal” school year is still on the horizon, many districts are proceeding with extreme caution — families and students can follow suit and do what is best for them.

Apex Leadership Co. knows firsthand the challenges students have endured throughout the pandemic. It’s important that their mental health and wellbeing are maintained above all. Families and teachers can provide an extra level of support as students head back to class this year and watch for signs that a child may need a little more help getting back into the swing of things.