Transitioning from online to in-person learning brings another set of challenges.
For a lot of the parents and high school students I’ve talked to, it’s exciting. For others, its’s daunting. One thing I know is no one is returning “back to normal.” Schools have changed. Routines have been upended. Familiar students and teachers may have moved and new ones entered.
Get Ready. Get Set. Change Again.
The number one thing you can do to help with returning to the classroom is recognize how difficult a change can be. It’s going to be just as hard to flip back into school as it was to embrace virtual.
Even if your teen is returning to the same school, they are not returning to the same environment. I know I’ve changed. Really, who hasn’t been changed by the past 18-months? There may be different routines, new rules, safety procedures and for some, spending all day in a mask will be an added difficulty.
Some kids will feel a loss going back to school. They might miss the family time. Home might have felt comforting. Social interactions in-person may bring renewed worries about their hair or clothes or fitting in- really about anything and everything.
As you consider how you can support your teen with this “new normal”, here are 5 quick tips to consider.
What Parents Can Do
Begin by recognizing back-to-the-classroom may be stressful. Helping them adjust to yet another new normal starts with hearing them and feeling for them. Remember optimism is contagious so spread some around.
Set A New Schedule- Since the previous commute was from the bed to the laptop, they may have forgotten how to build in enough prep time. Help them in planning enough time to eat, shower, dress and commute. Getting up earlier means winding down earlier is crucial.
Get a Renewed Grip on Screen Time – Keep in mind any good screen limits you had before the pandemic probably flew out the window. Work again toward a healthy screen time balance. Gradually reducing electronics time by swapping with in-person activities is a good method.
Tip- One tip I’ve found that really works is to have your teen charge their phone in your bedroom overnight. Not having instant access to every text or platform will help them get back into a good sleep-wake routine.
Get Informed- Read up on your school’s return-to-school policies. Know how they will handle infection outbreaks, mask requirements and rules on social distancing. This is also a good time to discuss ways to handle difficulties with your student. They are going to encounter vaccine-no vaccine controversies, people who disagree with Covid-related policies and outright misinformation. Asking them how they will handle someone whose opinion is different than their own is a good way to get into that discussion.
Offer Coping Ideas – Give your kids some strategies for first-week butterflies. Remind them everyone is feeling the same way. Suggest if they make someone else feel comfortable, it will also make them feel better. It’s as simple as smiling or just saying hi to the person next to you.
Talk It Out – Help them verbally explore how they have changed during the time of Covid. Remind them their old friends will seem familiar but may have changed too and there will be chances to include new people in their friends’ circle.
Keep an Eye Out – Watch for behavior changes that could mean they are stressed. It takes time to adjust to changes so remember to allow them time to accept their new normal.
Take time for you – Self-care is not selfish. With so many more demands on your time as you manage career and family, it’s even more important for you to take time for yourself. You can’t pour from an empty cup. I encourage you to find ways to integrate self-care into your routines every day. For example, an easy self-care practice is keeping a daily gratitude journal.
The week of August 2 is Back to School Week on Keep C.A.L.M. for Moms, my LinkedIn Live show. Join me daily for timely tips and insight to make this the best school year ever.
If you have a college-bound teen, be sure to check out our College Prep Toolkit here: https://bit.ly/toolkit_5