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Expert offers advice on how to get through the first week of school

COVID-19 means this school year will be different

DETROIT – For many parents right now, the upcoming school year is a daunting thought.

Some students have already returned to the classroom, others are getting ready to go. Whatever your situation is, pandemic or not, that first week can be tough for parents and kids.

READ: Michigan officials alarmed by potential changes to pandemic school lunch program

“I think that parents need to understand that is is up to them to have a calm presence with their children, because if they are hyped up their children will be hyped up,” Dr. Donna Rockwell said. “The first thing is to try and stay calm. To help yourself relax in the moment with whatever you’re dealing with.”

Rockwell said parents should make their children part of the process, so they feel included and take ownership of what’s going on.

“It’s kind of like being in a war, because we have to be so careful when we go out. So, we need to understand that things aren’t like they were before,” Rockwell said.

She said parents should create a special space set aside for learning. Preferably somewhere in the home where there aren’t many distractions.

She said you should have an area for schoolwork and an area where the student can play, or feel like they’re at home.

“We need to remember that this is really about learning, the love of learning and what we’re going to do when we grow up,” Rockwell said. “The main goal is not to make this like it used to be, the main goal is to make it a pleasurable learning experience, irrespective of where we are either at school or at home.”

READ: Tips for creating the best remote learning classroom in your home

Make sure your children understand how important it is to be open minded and flexible because school will look different this year.

“It’s up to us to create the energy that we want our children to have if they’re going to school, instead of hugging the teacher, they can do a big arms open virtual hug,” Rockwell said. “We can wave a big hello, and explain to them why they can’t touch other children and why they can’t touch the teachers, but, yes, it’s important to keep rituals and make this fun for our children.”

Experts said providing structure for children is more important now than ever during a time when so much is out of their control.

READ: Virtual learning raises concerns about children’s vision

“Divide up the day in a very orderly way, we need to be organized so we need to have breakfast in the morning -- so, mean times. We need to have school time, we need to have break time, lunch time,” Rockwell said. “It’s so important really, this structure, and we all know that children really thrive in structure. So we need to make a structured day - but a fun day,” Rockwell said.

Rockwell said children get their vibes from their parents, so you need to keep your outlook positive. She also said don’t forget to have fun the first week of school, be creative. Think about things you would normally do with your kids on a Saturday or a Sunday and make sure you include those during that first week of school too.

Click here to visit Dr. Donna Rockwell’s website


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