Back to the Future: Top Five Tips for Returning to In-Person Learning
With all of its shortcomings, online instruction has enabled millions of students to continue learning safely during the pandemic. As more schools reopen their doors and parents gain confidence in their children’s safety on campus, we find that students return to school with varying degrees of comfort and confidence.
Here are some tips to support children in the transition to in-person learning:
(1) Make time to preview school. Get up early (as you would on a typical school day), get ready, and drive to campus. Try to simulate the morning routine a few times before the actual first day back.
(2) Sweeten the pot a little bit. Make the first day back fun and rewarding, as if it were the first day of school again with new school supplies, backpack, clothing items etc.
(3) Anticipate needs. Find out if your children have particular questions or specific concerns that you can answer. Lay out the school day for them. Allay whatever stressors you can identify.
(4) Refresh their memories! Remind the children that they’ve done this before and it's not new. Having some butterflies in their stomachs and feeling a little anxious is normal and good, and will pass like it always does at the start of a new school year.
(5) Set the example. Model confidence in your children’s sturdiness and in the safety of the school. Point out the safety steps the school has taken, and the improved Covid conditions in your area that tell you it’s safe to go back to school. Express your assurances so your kids can focus on their own adjustment on campus.
That last tip might be the most important of all. Your children are watching you all the time, and they’ll definitely internalize your apprehension or your confidence when it comes to issues of school safety. So, be careful not to transfer your own anxieties onto your children. Your own outlook about returning to school -- whether you’re poised or fearful -- can shape your child’s transition in powerful ways, for better or for worse.
As study after study has shown, schools are measurably safer than the communities in which they reside when it comes to rates of virus transmission and illness. What’s more, the immeasurable social and emotional advantages of in-person instruction promise huge benefits for children who’ve been denied important social-emotional learning opportunities for more than a year now. While we all have our reservations after a year of pandemic life, children returning to schools with Covid safety protocols is definitely a positive step forward for families.