As children head back to school after a full year of remote or hybrid learning, parents can help in easing their transition. Although most kids are excited to get back to their familiar classroom environments alongside friends and teachers, a successful send-off involves more than just making sure they have their face mask and hand-sanitizer as they head out the door.
Dr. David Levine, the board-certified pediatrician with Atlantic Medical Group Pediatrics at Florham Park, is helping both parents and kids get comfortable transitioning back to school. In fact, he feels so strongly about the need for consistent, in-person learning that he was part of an organized group of parents who pushed to open schools in his own New Jersey town.
“Kids crave school, friends and routine,” says Dr. Levine, who reassures parents that the science has shown In-school learning with appropriate mitigation protocols is safe and that children are not a major cause of spread. And although getting back to in-class learning may be difficult after missing so much of the school year, parents and kids are far more prepared than they realize. Children already know how to wear a mask properly, wash their hands, use hand sanitizer and socially distance – all the same behaviors that will be reinforced at school.
Dr. Levine encourages parents to talk with their children about how school and Interactions with teachers and classmates will be a little different this year. “Supporting your child involves talking about their concerns,” he says. “Kids may worry they are behind in their studies, be unclear about school rules, or feel anxious about getting sick. Parents need to validate any fears their child might express.”
Whether your little one is eager or fearful about returning to the classroom, parents should follow a few simple guidelines. Stay connected to your child’s teachers. Get back into daily routines and a regular sleep schedule. Stay up to date with the school’s policies and explain them to your child in an age-appropriate way. Even take a day for back-to-school shopping – a new mask, school supplies, even a new outfit. “Above all, be available,” says Dr. Levine. “Listen to your children recount events from the day and reassure them that they’re in safe environment to express their feelings.”
If you have questions or concerns about your child’s mental or physical health, contact your pediatrician.