For many children, the “before school” routine of getting up, dressed, teeth brushed, and out the door is a distant memory. Kids have grown used to rolling out of bed, stumbling downstairs, and logging into their computers to complete school assignments or meet up with their teachers and classes. As schools across the country begin to reopen, children and parents will need to adjust back to an in-person learning environment. Preparing ahead of time will set everyone up for success.

  1. Find out from your school what the school day will be like and talk to your kids about it. Knowing how to navigate the school day will make it a smoother transition for all. Some things to ask the school:
  • Are students required to wear masks?
  • Will there be a mask break?
  • What is the schedule?
  • Are parents allowed inside the building?
  • What are the arrival and dismissal procedures?
  • Are there daily health screenings parents or children must commit to?
  • Will lockers/cubbies be in use?

 

  1. Discuss social and emotional challenges. Children that were best friends before the pandemic may have new best friends. Classmates and friends might have moved away. Fears of being bullied may resurface. Anxiety from leaving the comfort of home may build. Discuss how these concerns are making your child feel and give them tools to address those fears.
     
  2. Re-establish routines. Going back to in-person school will require a set schedule. Children need to get in the habit of getting a good night’s sleep, eating a healthy breakfast, and preparing for the day ahead.
     
  3. Strengthen positive habits. Help children make good decisions when choosing after-school snacks and activities. Choose to read a book or play outside instead of playing video games or watching TV. Develop good study skills by reviewing material daily instead of studying at the last minute.

For some families, a Permanent Change of Station (PCS) move might take children from an in-person or hybrid learning environment to one that is still virtual. Use these tips for a smooth transition.

  1. Have a designated school space. Decide which area in the home will be the best for learning. Keep all needed materials in this location, including desk, chairs, pencils, papers, crayons, scissors, and other school supplies. Remove items that could cause distractions such as toys, additional electronics, non-school-related books, and TV.
  2. Organize your computer. Create folders on your desktop for saving assignments and important information. Manage your email accounts, so the inbox isn’t full and important notifications can be easily found.
  3. Check your technology. Practice using your computer, microphone, and speakers before a scheduled class meeting. This will ensure that your child will be ready to learn when the class is up and running.
  4. Avoid digital overload. Take breaks from the screen and walk around your new neighborhood to get some fresh air. Check to see if your local library, playgrounds, or other places of interest are open.
  5. Stay connected. Keep in touch with family and friends. Set up age-appropriate kid messaging apps, so that kids can talk to their friends. Until new relationships are built at your new duty station, kids need to be able to speak to someone and share their experiences at their new duty station.

Whether you are returning to in-person learning or PCSing to a new duty station with a new school, the adjustment may take time. Talk to your kids and ease concerns they might have. Let them know the family is in it together and utilize available resources. Contact your School Liaison for information about school transitions.