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Tips for Parents: When Back To School For Your Child Doesn't mean Back At School

Considering the all-virtual plan that has been set in place among countless counties, it is no wonder that students are feeling disappointed, and maybe even nervous about this school year. When schools moved to an unprecedented all online format in mid to late March, there was hope that things would subside and everyone would leave months of quarantine and return back to in person education in August or September with an appreciation for the social and educational benefits of in-person learning.

But unfortunately, COVID19 rates continued to increase and as we approached back to school time, it became more apparent that many schools would have to start online, while a small few returned in person or to a hybrid model. This new reality of digital classrooms doesn't just impact students, but also parents who now have to be more hands-on in their child’s educational needs. Is there a quiet space for them to concentrate? Do you trust them to get their assignments in on time with new freedom to lay in bed or play on their computers? The following are some helpful tips for parents trying to help their children with the back to school transition.

#1: Keep In Mind The Mental Health Of Your Child

One of the top stressors of being a parent is handling your child’s outbursts of impatience or negative mood swings when stressing over their own worries, neglecting to realize that you aren’t their personal punching bag. Back to school is usually an overwhelming time for most students, because they have to make the trade of easy going fun, memories of the beach or video games for weekly quizzes, social pressures and six page essays. It can be easy to automatically grow resentful towards your child’s mood changes, however keep in mind that this transition is normally a complex one, and that adding on this new digital format they have been undergoing since March may be wearing them thin.

Check in with your child or children and realize that a child’s poor attitude might not require more harsh discipline, but a sit down talk acknowledging the difficulty, anxiety and stress imbedded in this new digital school year. Also remember to approach them with mutual respect and compassion as this can help them and you. If your child is in person or has a hybrid model, they too could be experiencing anxiety and a check in could be helpful to them as well.

#2: Provide Your Child With A Concentration Zone

With several classes requiring multiple assignments at once, it is common for students at some point to be filled with anxiety or concern about their ability to meet the educational demands. In addition, they will have to juggle interactions with a sibling, noise from everyone in the house (including you) and other distractions that take away from their full concentration in order to meet a tight assignment deadlines. It is vital that you are try your best to provide your child with space where they can get their work done and remain focused.

A completely quiet household can be near impossible for larger families, and not everyone has their own room to hide away in when working for long hours. If there is no extra space to create a spot for your child to fully concentrate, offer other solutions and involve the family in them. If there are times where one child is in class and their sibling isn’t for example, encourage them to either begin their homework or keep it down when sharing a common area in the home.

Photo by Julia M Cameron from Pexels

#3: Be Mindful of Your Attitude

Children are impressionable creatures, modeling their attitudes and behaviors after your own. If you make online learning seem like an undesirable and inadequate practice, your child may begin to not take their schooling seriously. This will cause them to believe that because they are not in a classroom they are not profiting from an education worthwhile and that they shouldn’t try as hard as in past years. It is important to model a message that communicates that just because learning is being done online it does not equate it to being any easier or less effective. This will encourage your child to continue taking their courses seriously and to do their work regardless of their surroundings. This is also true for hybrid models.

Dr. George James (@GeorgeTalks), Chief Innovation Officer, Senior Staff Therapist & Supervisor at Council for Relationships, Assistant Professor for the Couple and Family Therapy Program at Thomas Jefferson University and CEO of George Talks LLC.

Jamie McClelland, is a senior at Villanova University, double majoring in English and Communications with a specialization in media production.

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