Back-to-school 2020 is looking a lot different than the start of a typical school year. The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted every one of our routines, but this global health threat has been especially tough on our youth.
If you have questions or anxieties about how to best support your kids during this atypical school-year, rest assured you are not alone. Read on for strategies to protect your family’s physical and mental health through the 2020 school year.
Parents across the globe are asking: how do I talk to my children about COVID-19? Naturally, children will have questions, but how should we answer these questions accurately, impressing on our kids the seriousness of the situation without causing them unnecessary anxiety?
According to the American Academy for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, the key to healthy parent-child communication during pandemic is to make sure that you create an open environment where children know they can come to you with questions. Then, provide them with accurate, simply-worded information based on the questions they pose.
For more information on how to talk to your kids about COVID-19, you can also look to these handy guides, which provide specific strategies for answering questions that children in different age ranges might pose.
DEALING WITH UNCERTAINTY
One of the most important strategies for coping as a parent during this pandemic is to have a backup plan- and a backup plan for that backup plan. If your kids are at school, they might have to come home again this fall. If your kids are already at home, there’s no way of knowing exactly how long it will be before they will go back to school in person.
Make sure that you have a childcare plan in place for any potential new situation that could arise and that you have looped in other family members or important caregivers about this plan. This will keep you and your family from being blindsided by changes.
KNOW WHEN TO ASK FOR HELP
As parents, our goal is to always be able to provide everything our child needs. But we are human beings, not superheroes- no one can do it all, especially in times like these. Remember: there are times you will need to ask for help, and that’s ok.
Expect that you might need help supporting your kids through online school. Most parents never expected to have to double as teachers, but without the support of an in-person classroom, more and more students are turning to their parents to take a more active role in education.
Luckily, you can find an abundance of resources for helping students with online classes. This list from the Distance Learning Resource Center provides a wide array of learning support options to help your child excel with online work.
Despite all the chaos, it is still crucial to take care of yourself. Don’t be afraid to reach out for family or community support, or to explore telehealth mental health resources if you need someone to talk to.
Remember, these times are tough for all of us. But we are stronger together. The best thing you can do for your kids during this back-to-school season is to model a mature and empathetic approach to dealing with an unexpected crisis.