How to Talk to Children About Reopening Schools (or Not Reopening)
Somehow it’s late July, which means some of our kids only have a few weeks to go back to class – or not. School districts across the country are announcing school plans that are either completely in person, completely online, or a hybrid of both. Our kids want to know what it will be like. So even if you, like me, still don’t know how your child’s school year will be organized, it’s time to talk to him about it.
Ask them how they feel
If you haven’t already, now is a good time to talk to the kids about what this school year might look like. And keep in mind that even if you haven’t talked to them about it all summer, they, like you, probably pondered it, wondered and waited if they would return to class and what it would look like. like it if they do it. So start by asking them how they feel about the school year or what their hopes and concerns are.
They may be really happy to be back with their friends, but nervous about having to wear a mask for most of the day. And after so many months of physical distancing and being at home, they may also be afraid to go out again with so many people. It’s important to talk about their feelings or concerns so you can help support them.
If there’s one thing that 2020 has taught us so far, it’s the ability to live for months in a stew of uncertainty – and this fall will be no exception. Kids want to know what going back to school will look like, but the truth is, we really don’t know. Even if your county has announced its specific plan, by now we all know that things can change very quickly. In this way, we can tell our children what we know and what has been decided so far, but we must also accept that everything is subject to change.
Talk about how everyone in the family and community needs to be flexible. Our flexibility and ability to adapt is what ultimately makes us safe and healthy. Point out how they’ve done an excellent job of being flexible, such as switching to virtual learning in the spring and adapting basic ways of communicating with friends and family.
Focus on what ‘s under their control
However, no one can live in complete uncertainty; children need to control something . So, talk about what they can do to get ready for the school year. They can take school supplies with you. If they go to class, they can pick out some new masks with fun patterns (my son and I ordered a couple more Minecraft and Pokémon masks last night). If they stay at home, they can help you set up a study area with a desk or desk, a chair and their own supplies.
If they are at school, share the precautions that administrators, staff and teachers will take for them, and then talk about what they can do to contribute to the safety of themselves and others. Regular hand washing, wearing a mask, coughing or sneezing on the elbows, keeping your distance if possible and not touching your face are all that children can do regularly to keep themselves and others safe.
Keep your negative feelings to yourself.
It’s nice to empathize with the way our kids feel about school now, but parents need to be careful not to pass our own negative feelings onto them. This is the message that child psychologist Dr. Nicole Burkens relayed to ABC station in Michigan :
“One of the most important things parents need to remember when doing this is how we approach it as adults, and as parents will make a huge difference in how our children think about it. So regardless of our personal feelings – and our stress may be at its peak, we may have some anxiety or frustration – we really try to avoid negative statements about the school and about the plans in front of the children. “
You might think your school is reckless about going back to school, you might think they are overreacting, or you might think that a bunch of idiots are running the district – and you might be right. But leave the ranting in case the kids are already asleep and you might lash out at your partner or friend.