School these days comes with more uncertainty than ever. Whether your child is going back to school in-person or they’re learning online for now, transitioning back to a daily learning routine can pose challenges for kids of all ages. That’s why Crème de la Crème put together these tips to help you help your child get ready to go back to school.

Lean Into Back-to-School Rituals

a girl in a blue dress sitting on a porch reading with a large stuffed bear.

Image via Unsplash by drewpera

The pandemic has robbed everyone of so much, and kids are no exception. Keeping up with your usual back-to-school rituals can go a long way in providing a sense of normalcy and helping apprehensive kids get excited about going back to school again.

If you usually go out for a first-day-of-school dinner, cook up a special meal at home to commemorate the occasion. If your kid loves picking out a new outfit to wear on the first day back, give them the opportunity to do that this year — maybe add picking out a new mask to the tradition, too.

You can also create a packing list you and the kids can turn to for daily use. Things like hand sanitizer and a mask (and backup mask) are must-haves along with pens and notebooks. Having a checklist can help take the stress out of busy mornings and keep everyone on track as the school year progresses.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Our current reality comes with many extra challenges. The good news is, you’ve been practicing skills for months now that your kids will need if they’re transitioning back to in-person learning.

Building good habits at home like wearing a mask the right way, practicing good hand hygiene (sing that happy birthday song every time you wash your hands so the kids can hear you doing it), and socially distancing when you see other people will help kids transition to school.

Practice taking masks off by the ear loops with your kids. Let them wear their masks inside to get used to having them on for longer periods so they’ll have the tools they need to transition to classroom activities.

As the first day of school approaches, keep reinforcing those good behaviors. Correct kids as necessary, but also make sure you praise them when they get things right.

Rehearse Ahead of Time

Kids experiencing back-to-school jitters are often afraid of the uncertainty. That’s true in “normal” years. All the new rules, regulations, and safety concerns we to grapple with these days only amplifies their uneasiness. Even young kids can sense that the world has changed. So it’s no wonder that’s reflected in anxiety about going back to the classroom.

So, how do you quell those nerves? Consider doing a “dress rehearsal” if possible. Even if you just drive by the school building a few times, that will help give your child a sense of what to expect. The sturdier framework they have a for what’s to come, the less they’ll have to imagine things that make them uncomfortable.

Set Expectations for Routines

Going back to school after such a long time at home is sure to upend daily life. Setting a structure to new routines can help smooth the transition to at-home or in-person learning.

That goes for everything from mornings to homework to bedtime. Here are a few tips:

  • Mornings: Before the first day of school arrives, talk about what mornings will look like with your child. Well-defined, simple steps (think: a schedule with pictures that touch on getting dressed, brushing teeth, having breakfast, and getting out the door) can help your kid stay on track.
  • Homework: If your child has homework to complete, sticking to a structured schedule can help with that as well. For example, you might make sure your child tackles any at-home tasks as soon as they’re back from school or signed off for the day.
  • Bedtime: Kids who got used to staying up later and waking up later could struggle to get back into the usual rhythm of school. Again, step-by-step instructions and schedules can be super helpful. You should also set clear limits ahead of time (like no TV after 7 p.m.) so kids know what to expect.

When kids know what they need to do ahead of time, they’re more likely to have success with the transition. Having a structure to follow also helps cut down on anxiety that can come from heading back to school.

Let Kids Take the Lead

Remember how annoying it was when you were a kid to have your parents constantly telling you how to do things you already knew? Keep that in mind whether you’re helping your child learn to count or wash their hands the right way. Instead of telling kids how to act, ask them what they should do. By letting kids lead a conversation, you’re both reinforcing those habits and allowing kids to take ownership of the whole process.

Let kids lead with tough conversations as well. Kids may just be excited and not afraid of going back to school. If you ask your child questions instead of making statements, you’re less likely to pass along your own concerns inadvertently.

Offer Validation

At the same time, kids have ample reason to feel afraid right now. No matter if they’re concerned about falling behind on classroom knowledge, missing their best friend, or worried about what will happen if they forget the new rules, knowing they have their parents in their corner will go a long way to giving kids confidence to get back in the classroom. Validate fears or feelings they share with you so they know they have your support in figuring all this out.

Back-to-school jitters are real even in the best of circumstances, but remember: You’ve got this! Let your child know you have their back in taking on this new challenge. Whether that means setting a time to go over what your child’s learning virtually or getting comfortable wearing masks, take cues from your kid and practice patience — with them and with yourself. And if you’re already doing something with your child that’s worked wonders this year? Drop us a line so we can share your words of wisdom with other parents!