The Less-Stress Way to Head Back to School

Parents of school-aged children were thrown into a whole new experience of online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, teachers and parents have had to adjust to full online learning from their homes, to a hybrid schedule, and then back to full-time, in-person learning again. Not only did this throw a wrench in children’s normal schedules, but parents had to adjust their schedules as well. Now that we are heading into the 2021 school year, do parents (and children) really know what to expect? What changes have taken place and how can you and your child prepare for the year ahead? We have some tips on handling some of the big stressors, so you can keep your kids healthy and focused on learning and having fun!

Tackling Anxieties

Every new school year, children face the typical jitters of having a new teacher, new classroom, and making new friends. There might even be some added stress this year if your child did not previously transition back to a full-time, in-person schedule. Due to all the changes that have taken place over the last year, your child may also face some social or separation anxiety from their families. So, what can you do as a parent to help ease these anxieties?

Validate your child’s feelings.

Validating how your children are feeling is about having open discussions about their concerns while being mindful of their age and maturity level. They may have questions or reservations about transitioning to an in-person classroom.

Stay calm and have a positive attitude.

You are your child’s role model, which means they are observing how you handle stress. By displaying patience and positivity, you can help guide them to have the same attitude about the situation.

Set family routines.

Some children’s anxiety may be separation related after spending so much time at home. Creating regular routines that are dedicated to family activities may ease separation anxiety. Some examples include:

  • Movie night

  • Game night (indoor and outdoor games)

  • Family dinner at the table

  • Creative time (crafts, art projects, etc.)

Each child handles anxiety and stress differently, so don’t feel discouraged if the first attempt doesn’t work. Pay attention to your child’s strengths to help find the best solution for them.

top view of open backpack with school supplies

Getting into Routine

Getting your family back into routine after summer break can be a headache on a good year. Implementing regular routines at least two weeks before the first day of school can help make a smoother transition. Here are five tips to make the transition easier:

Set specific times to eat meals and go to bed.

Setting a morning routine of eating breakfast and getting dressed by a certain time is a great start. This will help your child establish how much time they need to get ready before heading off to school. Be sure to allow extra time in their schedule so they (and you!) don’t feel rushed on busier days.

Plan after-school routines.

The day isn’t over when the last bell rings. Planning your child’s after-school routines like childcare, extra-curricular activities, or when and where they should study can help your child on schedule at school and at home.

Supervise and limit screen time.

Decreasing this can help alleviate eye exhaustion. If your child has assignments on a computer, recommend breaks to relieve strain on their eyes and neck.

Mark your calendars.

Let your child pick a planner or calendar they are excited about. Assist with writing out their schedule for the coming weeks or months. Don’t forget to sync their calendar with the rest of the family schedule.

Leave time for fun!

It’s important to have a balance between schoolwork and play to help promote healthy study habits. This can include your child playing with a friend, or spending time with the whole family.

Planning School Lunches

Along with the regular routines you implement for the new school year, you must also decide on the best lunch system for your chi