DETROIT – Back to school anxiety has taken on a whole new meaning for the 2020-21 school year.
Whether your kids are heading back to the classroom -- or back home in front of a computer -- this will be a school year like no other.
A survey of 12,000 U.S. parents by Deloitte finds 66% are anxious about sending their children back to school this fall.
Adding to that anxiety, uncertainty about their school’s plan, and what the virus will do in the months to come.
“It’s not safe, in my opinion, for children to be in that environment,” said LaCrista Bishop.
That’s why LaCrista and Aaron Bishop are keeping their children home to start the year. The couple recovered after contracting COVID-19 in June and two of their three children have asthma.
“It’s a real, real fear for us to be able to feel comfortable to put our children in that environment and right now that’s just not the case,” LaCrista Bishop said.
Licensed Therapist Jody Baumstein said no matter what decision you make about school, talk to your children about it openly.
“When we don’t know what to expect, our brain kind of spirals into worst case scenarios and what ifs and it really fixates on all the unknowns,” Baumstein said. “That creates a lot of fear.”
If your child is heading back to the classroom, help them practice the three W’s:
- Wear a mask
- Wash your hands
- Watch your distance
“Have them practice that ahead of time so it really becomes comfortable,” Baumstein said. “It’s normal. it’s not scary.”
If they’re staying home, establish a routine, encourage virtual interaction with friends and take regular breaks.
It’s also helpful to create a specific space for learning.
Therapists encourage parents to also keep an open dialogue with their children because feelings can change.
Make sure you listen without judgement -- acknowledge what they’re feeling -- and try to extra patient during these challenging times.