With the school year feeling uncertain this year, here are 3 top tips for making the fall transition easy
Written by Mia Weber
It goes without saying at this point that fall 2020 is unlike any other back-to-school season in history. Whether you have an older child going back to a hybrid in-person and online school environment or a toddler or preschooler navigating COVID-safe pre-K or daycare, there are some essential steps you can take to help make a tough time easier.
Regardless of your child’s age or where you live, your first priority should be your family’s health and safety. This means having conversations with your partner or spouse about what your top concerns are - are you most worried about your child being around other kids and adults outside your family’s “bubble,” the cleanliness in the school facilities, the mental health issues at hand, or a combination--and make a game plan about discussing them openly with your school administrators (and teachers and caregivers if the school allows) as well as with your kids (in an age-appropriate way, of course).
You should familiarize yourself with your state’s official position (and city’s or district’s, if they differ from the state at large) on school re-openings and the recommendations being put forth by officials. Explain to your kids about why measures like masks, social distancing, and a different format for the school year are necessary to keep us all safe right now. Ask them to come to you with questions and concerns of their own and address these as best you can in a manner that feels tangible for their age.
Shop To It
Even though this school year is not a typical one, it does not mean back-to-school shopping can’t be helpful to set the tone. Sit with your kiddo and talk about what supplies you need to get for school--this applies whether they’re going back to pre-K part time, daycare for the first time since quarantine started, or into a new grade of elementary school with an unprecedented schedule.
Not only is shopping for new supplies and clothes a fun fall ritual, it’s also necessary to ensure you have what your little ones need at home should full-time remote learning return full time, and it also helps kids mentally have a positive incentive to transition to a new season and routine.
Carve Out Space
With so much of the fall routine looking different right now, carving out space at home for learning that is separate from your child’s play space and sleep space is more important than ever. You may be facing a school year that’s entirely online and therefore need to invest in some tech tools and a desk for your kiddo that they’ll be able to sit at for much of the day; or you may be facing shortened daycare hours so your kids will be toddling around and needing to entertain themselves while you and your partner work from home. Either way, letting your kids know that there’s a spot in your home for them to use for their learning and school time is going to work wonders.
Even if you have a small space, look to nooks and crannies where a child’s desk or storage shelf of learning items might fit nicely. If your toddler or child is old enough, ask them about what would make them feel calm and excited to learn new things. On the flip side, double-down on making their bed extra cozy for naps and nighttime and making the play area extra fun (if this means tempting them with a new toy, so be it). The key is creating space at home for life’s different modes.