What Does Returning to School Look Like for Kids Amid a Pandemic? How to Prepare Your Family for The Upcoming School Year


July 24, 2020

What “Return to School” Means During a Pandemic

When the return to school advertisements come out, there are always mixed emotions for parents and kids. But in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic, this new school year will likely bring heightened emotions for your family.

Talking to your kids and their teachers about the best schooling option for this fall can be a lot to unpack, however the first and most important step may be the conversation you have with yourself. 

We’re here to support you during this uncertain time. Learn coping skills and practical communication methods in one of upcoming webinars How Parents and Kids Can Ace Returning to School With Mindfulness!

Using Mindfulness to Prepare for What’s Ahead

Depending on where you live and what school district you’re in, the stress of the new school year could range from having too many options to not enough. It’s difficult to know how to protect your child and support their learning with so many questions still up in the air, but including a few mindfulness practices into your decision-making process can be helpful.

Pay attention to how you are feeling.   Before navigating these conversations with your children and their educators, it’s helpful to pause and notice how you are feeling, with kind curiosity. This helps you see your options more clearly. A great way to practice this is through the STOP practice.

Start every day off with a little bit of mindfulness by signing up for an upcoming Mindful Daily session.

How to Prepare Your Children for Fall

A new school year always involves change for kids as they advance into grade levels and schools, but preparing them for their first full school year in the middle of a pandemic has no handbook. Whether your family is opting for an in-school, hybrid, virtual learning, or homeschooling situation this year, there will be important things to discuss and it can be challenging knowing where to begin or what to say.

Talk to your kids about your fears and theirs. This is a vulnerable time for everyone, and while everyone is busy trying to figure out logistics and other details, it’s also important to make sure you give your children the opportunity to identify and communicate their own feelings. When you share your concerns together, it can help kids of any age feel heard and comforted.

Acknowledge that things are going to be different and they might also be scary. Kids of any school age are able to pick up on changes in their lives. Whether it be social distancing in the classroom or only seeing their classmates in virtual settings, acknowledging that things will be different and talking about any feelings that come up for them can help them feel more prepared for what’s to come in the Fall.

Emphasize a few adults in your child’s social sphere that they can go to if they need to talk. The next normal of COVID-19 is a new era for all of us, and there will be questions that come up for everyone as we embark upon the new school year. As much as you can, talk to and try to prepare your children beforehand, knowing that the experience may be different than how they imagine it. Remind them that you and other important adults in their lives are still there to help them along the way.

Feeling overwhelmed by the new school year? Check out our Mindfully Managing Anxiety Series for tips on how to manage your anxiety

Communicating to Teachers with an Open Mind

In the interest of keeping your children safe and trusting the learning environment that they’re in, it’s normal to want to have genuine conversations with their teachers. But before you call them or email them, there are a few things to keep in mind to make sure the conversation will be helpful.

Everyone has questions right now. It’s normal to have multiple questions about how this school year is going to go and how your child’s education will advance amidst all the chaos, but also keep in mind that teachers are likely fielding a barrage of questions from other parents as well.

Navigate these complex feelings by tuning into compassion with our The Power of Awareness – Freedom Through Self-Compassion on-demand content.

You and your children’s teachers are on the same side. When it comes to making sure your children learn in a safe and protected environment, you and your children’s teachers are on the same team. No matter what changes or issues come up along the way, you can discuss and solve them together.

Acknowledge teacher perspectives with compassion and an open mind. By practicing  mindfulness, we can open our minds to the perspectives of others, and this can be especially helpful during this time of stress and uncertainty. Most likely, teachers are feeling just as vulnerable and unsure as parents are right now, and taking a compassionate approach can help you establish a strong relationship with teachers before the first day of school begins.

Start the New School Year Mindfully

It’s hard to know what this new school year will bring, but using mindfulness practice to focus on the present moment can help you navigate it one day at a time. By identifying and allowing your own feelings, communicating thoughtfully with your children, and interacting with kindness and compassion toward teachers, you can be sure to  make the best decisions for your child’s education and safety.

Don’t forget, you don’t have to face these challenges alone. Register for one of our upcoming webinars How Parents and Kids Can Ace Returning to School With Mindfulness!

Written by Becky Greiner.