It’s fair to say that the back to school season this year is different than any we’ve ever experienced. Students and parents are dealing with complex issues that include turning their home into a classroom. To help parents with some advice on how to help kids be strong and flexible during these tough times, host Tati Amare spoke with Ronnie Hormel, a therapist with Birmingham Maple Clinic.
So, how do parents help keep their own stress and anxieties from effecting their kids? Well, the first thing Ronnie wants parents to do is to reframe their thinking. It’s natural for parents to feel their own loss at their child’s missed experiences this year. Instead of thinking of it as a loss, however, Ronnie says to think of it as building resiliency in your students. All kids, kindergarten through college, are learning how to be flexible and persevere through tough times in this experience. What they learn this year will help serve them for many years to come.
Another way to help your student out is to use really flexible language. Say things like, “We right now, we are going to school from home, but who knows what will happen next semester.” The truth is we really don’t know what this year will have in store for us and being transparent with your kids about that is a good thing.
If your child is attending virtual classes this year, it is best to set them up an area for learning that is separate from the rest of the house. This space will signify they need to focus and learn. You will also want to create a separate space for them to relax and be creative. Separating those spaces, and keeping them on a consistent schedule will make learning from home operate similar to how they did at school, and will help smooth that transition.
For those with students that are going back to in-person school, Ronnie suggests doing activities together as a family while wearing their masks. This gets kids in the habit of wearing their masks, so having to wear one at school feels more normal. Parents modeling how to wear them will encourage their kids to do the same.
Now, some students will indeed feel a loss and miss seeing their friends, playing sports, and whatnot. To help cheer them up, plan play dates and fun activities with their friends so they are still getting that sense of community and fun. You can also reach out to your school’s counselor, or primary care physician, if you are nervous about how they are coping.
This school year will be tough, but being honest, flexible, and trying to look at the positive side will help set your child up for success.