Back to School: Those three words can trigger many different emotions and thoughts for children and parents alike. Add the recent pandemic to the equation, and even more, concerns come into play.

Whether this is your first school year or your child is heading back to in-person learning, as you begin to prepare for the 2021-2022 school year, consider these tips to start the year off right.

Immunizations & Health Records: Some children are returning to in-person school for the first time in more than a year. While doing virtual school, immunizations and health assessments may not have been kept up-to-date. Use the last part of summer to get these records in order. Check with your child’s primary care physician to see if all shots are up-to-date, and check with the school to see if any new immunizations are required.

Enrollment Process: Some families moved during the summer due to PCS, and some children are going to a new school for the first time. Whether your child is starting kindergarten or going to a middle or high school, it is good to know the enrollment/registration requirements and when the deadline is to register. Some schools may continue to offer a virtual option for families who wish to remain with learning at home.

Absences: Your child will most likely miss a day or two of school. Review the school’s policies on absences due to illness, specifically coronavirus, or the need to quarantine upon return from travel outside of the local area.

Academic Needs: Some children excelled during virtual learning, but others did not. Address your child’s needs with the teacher(s) as soon as possible. Look at current IEP/504 plans and see if it is time for re-evaluation. Find out if tutoring or remediation options are available at the school. Utilize for assistance with homework, tutoring, and test preparation.

Masks & Social Distancing: Determine if the school will require face masks and social distancing. If masks are required, put a spare mask in your child’s backpack just in case one is forgotten or gets dirty throughout the school day.

Extracurricular Activities: Find out if the school has returned to normal seasons for sports and extracurricular activities. Make appointments to get sports physicals completed during the summer if needed.

New Student Orientation: For those students that just moved to the area or are attending a school for the first time, check with the school to see if they offer a a campus tour, new student orientation, or open house. If not, check the school website for a map so that you can help your child find important things with ease like their classrooms, lunchroom, etc.

Parent Involvement: For more than a year, some schools have limited the ways that parents can interact with the school. Ask classroom teachers how you can be of assistance and what the requirements are to be a volunteer.

Healthy Mind, Body, & Spirit: One of the most important things parents can do for their kids, is to make sure children are staying healthy mentally, physically, and emotionally. Decide as a family how to encourage healthy habits, such as eating nutritious foods and exercising on a regular basis. Come up with ways to de-stress and practice mindfulness activities. If all of those things don’t work, or you need help, contact MCFTB for skill building activities, or Community Counseling if you need to speak to someone. The Military OneSource support center is also available by phone (800-342-9647) or online chat.

Stay Positive: Every new school year brings challenges in many different forms. Work with your child to overcome obstacles. Encourage a growth mindset by looking at the positive outcomes from these challenges. Take breaks, smile a lot, laugh even more, and have fun!

A new school year brings new and exciting possibilities for your child’s future. Contact your local School Liaison with questions about transitioning into a new school, and use the Back to School Checklist to prepare for the new school year.