Transitioning back to school during a pandemic can be overwhelming for young children and parents alike. There are added challenges that will be faced and not fully comprehended by young children. This can cause children to be wary, increase their anxieties, and add stress to the transition.
The CDC recommends that parents can help the transition to be successful by the following:
-Connect with other parents who have children in the same program who can provide information and make them more comfortable with the program.
-Talk with the teachers about the best way to separate from their child at the start of the day – brief goodbyes are often best.
-Try to stay calm and reassuring during transition – using a calm voice, with a relaxed face and body to let their child know that they wouldn’t leave them if the child were not safe and protected.
-Take care of themselves during stressful times so they can be better equipped to take care of others.
-Find resources to learn how to promote resilience and reduce anxiety.
-Remember that this is a phase – building new relationships is a skill, and with support, children can be resilient. Even if it’s hard to separate, they will gain a new trusted relationship with their new teacher and feel more secure.
Parents with concerns can:
-Make sure their child has a daily, predictable routine, with regular times for healthy meals, naps, and night sleep at home. Having a rested body and knowing what to expect at home helps children cope.
-Monitor your child’s developmental milestones and learn what to do if there are concerns.
-Talk to a healthcare professional if your child’s symptoms of anxiety or behavior problems are severe or persistent.
-Contact a mental healthcare professional for parent training and support so parents can help their child.
-Find resources for themselves if they are sad, worried, or stressed.
-For children with new concerns that persist, ask the school for an evaluation.
-Create an emergency card that your child can keep in their school backpack.
Despite our best efforts, we can not avoid stress in our lives or our childrens’ lives. However, we can set an example of how to effectively cope with stress and help them to become resilient and face adversity with courage and confidence.