Mom and Dad made the decision last week that I would be going back to school. They had been talking about it for a long time. When many people were still getting sick from the virus, they leaned towards more homeschooling, and I was silently relieved. But as the date grew closer, the numbers from the virus came down, and they felt more confident in sending me to school as they thought I would be safe.
At first, I was excited to see all of my friends. I have a younger brother, but he doesn’t always play the way I like. I need my friends to talk to and to play the games we love.
My cousin Siam is not able to go to school. Her family lives in an area where the numbers for the virus is higher than our district. So she will continue learning online while I can go back to school.
Finally, the day came. It was time to go back to school. It was strange when my mother took my temperature this morning. It is a check that will happen every morning to keep everyone safe – safe from me, if I get sick.
Mom dropped me off in the car parking lot instead of walking me to the playground. This was one of the new rules. It made me feel sad that she could not watch me start my day. I could feel my stress level go up.
I can barely remember the last time I was here at school. Nothing is very familiar to me, even though I have been here hundreds of times. School has changed so much.
My friends cannot come close to update me on what they have been doing. Now we stand on Xs outside the school patiently waiting to go inside. There is an eerie silence as every parent has warned us to be very careful at school so that we won’t get sick.
Finally, when I get to my classroom, things are very different. Our desks are spread apart. We all carefully walk to our spots to look through our new school supplies and arrange things near our private spaces. Once we sit down in our places, we begin to feel a little more relaxed. We wave, smile, and air high five.
I am missing my best friend, Jared. He has been assigned to another class and will be coming to school on opposite days to me. There are only 15 kids in my class.
Our teacher is new to the school. Mrs. G. is staying at home with her family, so Mr. K. Is taking over teaching the grade 4 classroom. He is wearing a mask, but I can still see his smile as there is a clear patch in his mask. He looks friendly. I start to feel a little better.
I sure hope the day goes smoothly as I still feel jittery.
The first thing we do with Mr. K. is to play a game. It helps us concentrate on fun instead of worrying about the situation. We start by all following Mr. K. ’s moves. He jumps on 1 foot and then on the other. Soon he is turning around, and we all follow. That is the warm-up. My friend Sahira chooses Dylan to close his eyes to be “it”. Then Mr. K. selects Bonita to be the leader to change the moves. We follow her movements, while Sahira tries to guess who the leader is now. Soon I was so involved in playing the game; I began to enjoy myself and laugh at our antics.
When I get home that afternoon, I tell mom all about my first day. I played games, read some new books, talked to my friends, worked on some math games on the computer, and watched some videos. I am looking forward to returning the next day.
My mom smiles.
Consider Emotional State First
Many kids will be nervous when it is time to go back to school face-to-face. Hopefully, all of the adults involved will understand that teachers need to concentrate on helping kids find the experience enjoyable while feeling safe. Academics may need to take a back seat for some time. It will take not just days or weeks for everyone to be ready for academic challenges. It may take months.
And that is OK.
Kids Can: in the coronavirus pandemic See the tips and tricks to help kids be more positive during the coronavirus pandemic. Use storybooks and Youtube videos to help your kids understand their emotions.
At some point, the schools in your neighborhood will reopen. Prepare your young child for the new normal. Use these 7 Tips and Tricks. Going Back to School Help for ParentsTestimonial: Sara Schultz: this is great! I am an elementary school counselor and have lots of opinions on this but if parents choose to send their children the parent tips in this article are spot on. Takiyah Brickhouse: great article to communicate in a child-friendly language.
Are your Kids Suffering from the Coronavirus Fatigue?
It doesn’t seem to matter your age, everyone is suffering from coronavirus fatigue. And with the daily restrictions there is also the danger of emotional distress. Kids are especially vulnerable to negative emotions when their whole world has been turned upside down.
They need to be taught strategies of resilience to combat these dangers. “Children are suffering enormous upheaval on a scale that we have not seen in this lifetime. There have been many sudden changes to their lives and so much is yet unknown about the long-term impacts of this crisis, which requires us to be vigilant and do everything possible to limit the impact on young minds”, explains Marie Dahl, an expert in Mental Health for children. It is time to intervene to boost their spirits and give them some hope for the future.
Give your child the gift of hope, understanding, and resilience through a variety of means. What better way to do so than using a poignant storybook or YouTube video or workbook! Surprisingly there are many from which to select.
The following resources are categorized by 4 age groups – Young Children, School Age, Preteen, and Teen- but feel free to use the resources that are most suitable to your child and circumstance.
Your kids may not think that their life will hold a better future. It is hard for kids to think beyond the here and now. As adults we have a lifetime of memories to fall back on. Your kids do not have that type of resilience as a strategy. There is hope for the future in this story. Arm your kids with this sentiment during this time that is filled with doubt.
This storybook has been written by a clinical psychologist. The story lets children know it is ok to have negative feelings and this can be difficult for many people. The tiny bird, as a narrator, is a symbol of hope and freedom, which is what we need these days.
As adults we can rationalize that “someday soon” will come. Young kids need to hear and see confirmation that their hopes are not lost. We are all longing for that change, even if we know that it will be the new normal.
Despite the fact that your child may be able to read the material independently, it is important that you share the story together. Your child may want to share some strong emotions with you as you journey through the stories or the videos. Take time to put down the book or stop the video to listen to your child and respond with assurances that they are safe.
This is a story that is free to every family. It was developed by the Inter-Agency Standing Committee Reference Group on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergency Settings (IASC MHPSS RG to assist parents in addressing many issues about the coronavirus. The child travels the world sharing experiences with other children. Throughout her journey she gains understanding of the way in which others are coping.
Even kids can help to bring joy to others as shown by this sister and younger brother. The message is delivered by both of the kids. This video has some religious overtones. The message is enveloped in an uplifting song.
Two brothers set new words to Old Town Road to show how they spend their time during the long days of the coronavirus pandemic. You can see their backstory here. Challenge your kids to start their own creative project to express their feelings
Miss Sara explains to squirrel that our negative feelings are all okay because we can choose to have trust and hope to get us through any situation. After or even during this video expect that your kids will want to explain how they are feeling. Spend some time discussing how their feelings are shared by others.
Sophie is a 7 year old girl who is confused about the COVID 19 situation. She has many unanswered questions when one day her world is turned upside down. This book has many opportunities for discussion for your kids’ circumstances. Dig into your child’s deepest feelings through this book.
Ordinary people are superheroes in combating this pandemic. Your kids will feel safer knowing how many people are working on this problem. All proceeds will be donated to Doctors Without Borders as the need for health care access in countries around the world increase with the COVID-19 Pandemic.
DownLoad this free workbook to guide you through any discussions you may have with your kids. You can use the workbook to bridge the gaps created by your changing circumstances. Share it with your child by completing the activities and as a conversational tool. You can also encourage an older child to work with a younger sibling, or go to a calming corner and reflect independently. The author is Denise Daniels an RN, MS, Peabody Award–winning broadcast journalist, and child development expert.
Although this is not a pandemic focused book, it is all about positive mindset. Focus on developing resilience in your kids as key to an ongoing sense of satisfaction. Having a positive mindset can go a long way in helping to achieve this. Use this book to open up the conversation.
‘The Magic Is Inside You,’ will help your kids to banish negative self-talk while setting their mind for inner confidence and success. A resource for parents is very helpful to guide the process for developing the vocabulary for positive self talk.
The cartoon like presentation gives access to preteens to some very complicated concepts. Help your kids focus on making lemonade whenever confronted by negative situations. People with a positive attitude are ready to take on whatever the world throws at them.
Mateo is stuck in negativity and it takes him a while to move from this mindset into something much more positive. Help you kids get unstuck from all of the negativity that overshadows their lives at this time. There is always a bright side to every situation, if you chose to make it so.
Gabi Garcia is a mama, licensed professional counselor and picture book author. She sets the tone for understanding that there will be hard things to accomplish but your kids have the resilience to accomplish them. Building on the positive message of the book, you can approach all of the hard things about the coronavirus.
Sometimes we need to see the difficult time others are suffering to appreciate what we have in our own life. In this news story, this teen very life was threatened by the coronavirus. His lowest point was when he was wheeled down to the ICU. But he fought it off and is now sharing his experience.
Although this isn’t about the coronavirus, it is a love story in which the main characters need to be 5 feet apart to maintain their health. There are many parallels to the current situation. Your teen will encounter many thought provoking moments to provide perspective on what is happening now.
Help your teen plan for a positive future through journaling. This is a perfect method for teens who are the creative writers in your family. Instil hope for more positive times when everything is possible.
Many teens fall prey to depression during the best of times. In this stress filled pandemic, there will be more teens at risk for depression. Give guidance to your teen for taking a problem-solving, strategy-based approach to deal with depressed moods, thoughts, and behavior.
Take a look at these 150 ideas to lift your teen’s spirits. In this era of negativity, your teen may let their demons run away with their thoughts. Use the toolbox to address the problems you kids are facing.
Parents, listen to this short video to get some tips and tricks in dealing with your teen about our current situation. Find out what to stop doing as well as how to approach your teen to open up the discussion you know you need to have.
Six teens describe what it is like being in quarantine. Some things are aggravating, others are annoying. Some things are embarrassing or funny. But there can be a positive side to the situation. This video gives a normal perspective to an extraordinary circumstance.
When you can do something in a circumstance, you feel in more control. Kids do not know this fact instinctively, but you can help them to cultivate this strategy.
It will help your kids establish a better emotional balance during this pandemic.
What the Research Says
“According to a 2017 study by Fothergill, kids experience the general atmosphere of anxiety and panic as acutely as adults do, only they might be better at hiding it. That fact might contribute to a general sense among adults that children are somehow naturally “resilient,” and can bounce back easily. And that attitude from adults can hamper both proactive attempts to help children process what’s happening, and necessary therapeutic efforts after the disaster,” according to The Atlantic.
So, what can you do as a responsible parent? You can focus on what kids can do to maintain a positive attitude and encourage coping skills during the restricted conditions in the coronavirus pandemic. Try out these 7 ideas to eliminate bad behavior!
1. Be A Helper!
This is a win-win situation. Parents will welcome the help at home at the same time that kids need to be active.
As a parent, you can explain that just as the emergency care workers help sick people, kids can help at home to keep family members safe.
Set up a list of ways to help from setting the table, putting out the garbage, and creating a garden. Let your kids select the tasks they want to do if you’re intent on getting “buy-in” from them. Then reward them with an acknowledgment of their contribution. Make your praise specific as it is more effective. It may sound like this. “When you do the dishes, it gives mummy more time to organize things for all of the family. Thank you for doing such a great job!”
If your children are older, they can be a helper in your community. There are many special projects developed by a local community organization, churches, and government agencies to meet the needs of this unusual time. Many tasks can be completed by older kids in your own home if you do not want to expose them to the risks of working with people outside your family bubble. They could make courtesy Facebook connections to elders in the nursing homes, or package material to distribute as just a few examples.
2. Follow the Family Routine
Kids thrive on knowing the ebb and flow of the day, so it is crucial to set up a routine for eating, sleeping, chores, entertainment, and other daily activities. A routine will ward off bad behavior.
To make the plan visible to everyone, it is essential to post the schedule where it can be seen. You may not have times associated with the routine, but the order of some activities will be very similar every day.
Not every day needs to be identical. For instance, you may target one day a week for grocery shopping or to assist at the local food kitchen or work in the garden.
3. Stay Healthy
To fight this virus, each individual has a societal responsibility to stay healthy. For your kids, that can manifest itself in helping to plan healthy meals or snacks, times and types of exercise, times for social interaction, and times for individual responsibility such as homework or job-related tasks.
You will need to point out that these healthy initiatives are required to combat the coronavirus spread. These small steps are all part of the larger fight to beat this pandemic.
4. Ask Questions
Often kids can misinterpret the media, have learned an incorrect fact from a friend, or respond to their anxiety in a very damaging way. Negative emotions based on misconceptions are potent.
Encourage seeking the truth about the pandemic so that the path to a more normal life is clear.
You may want to add a question period in your daily routine to spark interaction. Perhaps while you are preparing dinner, you can have an open session where questions are asked or present some critical information. Bedtime is another opportunity for conversations, as well.
5. A Temporary Situation
Kids need to understand that this situation is, for now, but it will not be forever. You can assure them that gradually they will be able to do the things they always did, such as go to school, visit their friends and family, play on the beach and everything else.
But at first, things will be different as we all need to use social distancing, such as wearing masks, meeting outside, or meeting behind glass. Eventually, these precautions will fade away and just become a memory.
6. Be Thankful Every Day
Although our current situation may be the toughest sacrifice you have had to make, it is not the most severe that people in other areas face daily.
It is critical to help your kids see the positives in their lives. Perhaps everyone they know is healthy. Or staying at home has meant more time with family members. Your kids may have learned a new skill in this time, such as learning to ride a bike or learning how to use tools or reading more books.
You may want to put a thankfulness time into your routine. Every day, in the conversation around the dinner table, you can role model what you were thankful for today. It can be something as small as seeing the first robin of the year or as big as grandma got out of the hospital today. Focus on the positive in direction opposition to the build-up of negative emotions.
7. Be the Best They Can
By helping your kids understand the source of their negative emotions, they can take control of their own behavior.
There are many storybooks and YouTube videos that explain the connection between stress and anxiety and bad behavior in a kid-like manner. As a parent, you will recognize that poor behavior is likely a maladjusted response for dealing with fear or depression.
Teach your child to understand that these outbursts are responses to a situation that is beyond their control. Your kids need to focus on what they can do in this very oppressive situation. They can choose to make themselves feel better. And you are there to support them as they find ways to be more positive.
With young kids, you need the right tool to help your child understand that sometimes life sucks, but when it does, that is the time to use the light at the end of the tunnel to boost their spirits.
There are some specific resources for parents to use to address feelings kids may be experiencing. Some are coronavirus specific, and others are about the emotions generated by a variety of situations. Use these resources to help your children understand that dealing with their feelings will put them into control of their life.
Spark your child’s understanding of their emotions through the right media resources.
Activities and conversation starters during the coronavirus pandemic By YoungMinds
Recommended Social Story Books for Younger Children
These everyday heroes perform magnificent feats daily. Your kids can replicate their bravery by stepping up their efforts to keep the family safe and in good spirits. Just ask them to be a hero and you may be surprised at their effort.
As adults we can rationalize that “someday soon” will come. Young kids need to hear and see confirmation that their hopes are not lost. We are all longing for that change, even if we know that it will be the new normal.
Kids and Stress: Willem, the “News Dude” speaks directly to kids about the causes and some solutions for stress. – suitable for older children
Stress Relief for Kids: Blow out the candle breathing. Use this video to explain training in deep breathing using cartoon characters. Your child will understand a mindful moment. – varied ages
What Causes Anxiety & Depression? This video uses scenes from the movie “Inside Out” to explain why we need to acknowledge our feelings, but then shows a way to move on. It’s okay to be sad. – a variety of ages
Ruby Finds a Worry: In this storybook read aloud, A worry follows Ruby everywhere. It grows every day until she finds a friend to talk to. It shows that talking about worries with a friend is the best solution. – for young children
Very soon, every family will be facing this dilemma. You will be thinking about sending your child back to school. Since the restrictions for the coronavirus are easing, many areas are opening up the schools. In most places daycares have been open for a while. Some parents will welcome the opportunity to get closer to the new normal, and others will refuse to send their children.
In this unpredictable world, both viewpoints are understandable.
But if you do send your child back to school, help prepare them for the inevitable. It will not look like what they know and are familiar with.
Here are 7 pointers to assist you. The ideas have been generalized, and you may need to confirm the details with your school district. You can explain the following to your child.
1. Not The Same
School will not be the same as before. But it is safe for you to return if you understand a few ideas and the new rules about school.
If you have an older brother or sister, they may go to school first, or they may have to wait until after you go to school. Not everyone will return on the same day.
Your mom or dad may take your temperature every day to make sure you are ok to mix with your friends. This check will keep everyone safe.
2. I Can See My Friends
You will be very happy to see your friends, but you cannot play with them in the same way as before.
You can see your friends and talk to them, but you cannot get any closer than 6 feet – Parents you will need to demonstrate how far that is – have your child stretch out their hands.
You can practice social distancing at home so your child can be prepared for it. Have a “social distancing morning or afternoon” in your home to normalize the conditions. Include handwashing in your routine.
There will be no sharing of anything, including school supplies, snacks or lunches, books, papers when you go back to school.
Your teachers will give you lots of time to play with each other in a safe way. You can share what you have been doing with your families. Or you can just play, now that you are together again.
It could be that some of your friends will decide to stay at home and will not be at school with you. That is their choice. Their mom and dad will keep them safe at home.
3. The Classroom Will Be Different
There will be fewer people in your class, so that your teachers can keep everyone safely apart at the right distance.
You will not be allowed to leave the classroom without an adult to help you remember the rules about distancing.
Your teacher will likely teach you everything, from reading to physical education to music. It is unlikely that there will be any teachers that teach many different classes.
It also could be that your teacher may not be back. He or she may have health concerns or may have family members who need care. It could be a personal decision on the part of your teacher. You will not be told why they are not at school, as this is private information. No one will share the reasons with you.
4. Keeping You Safe from the Virus
You may see more people cleaning more often. This is to keep you safe. So, if you use the blocks, they may have to be cleaned before anyone else uses them. Your teacher will explain what to do to keep you safe.
You will have to do more personal washing than ever before. Parents need to be aware that “the new government directive says children will have to wash their hands upon arrival at school, before and after each trip to the toilet, before and after each meal, after play, after blowing their nose, coughing or sneezing, after touching shared objects, and before going home,” according to The Local. Hand washing will take time for everyone to do, a few at a time. Before you go to school, I will help you practice how to wash your hands washing and in school, you can use the songs or methods, so you know how long to spend washing your hands.
If you have a fever at school or show signs of illness, you will need to go home to keep everyone safe.
5. Hey!!!! This is Different
Your mom or dad will have to take your temperature every day before you leave for school.
Somethings you see will surprise you. There may be X’s on the pavement or in the hallways, so you will know where to stand. There may be arrows for ways to walk.
You will continue to see masks. Children may have the choice to wear a mask. Some kids may have a medical reason why they cannot wear a mask. But all of the adults will wear one.
Your parents will not be able to go into the school. They may have to wait in your family car. You will need to go inside yourself, but your teachers will be there to help you. Don’t worry, everything will work out, when you go back to school.
You may go to school for a week and then will stay home for a week. Or you may go to school in the afternoons and your friends will go in the mornings.
Recess will look very different. Some schools will have sections of the playground for certain classes. Others will have classes go out for recess at different times.
There will be no baseball or soccer games as you come into contact too closely for those types of sports. You may want to bring some toys to play with at recess, but you may not share these toys with a friend.
Some areas of the schoolyard may be closed to everyone. That could include the playground, sandpits, and other equipment, when you go back to school.
7. My Ride to School
You can go to school on the bus, but you may not be able to sit with a friend, as that is too close to keep you safe. Your brother or sister may need to sit on the same seat with you because they are in your safe bubble. Your friend may sit across the aisle from you. No one can turn around to talk to a friend as this is too close. You may want to play a game with your seatmates on your ride to school. You could play “I Spy” or you could count the blue cars you see on your ride.
Your teacher will help you understand how you are feeling about the differences in what is happening. Your friends will be telling everyone how they think and what is frustrating. That will be your chance to explain to them how you feel. It is okay to be upset or confused. Many kids will feel that way.
Kids and teachers will make mistakes until everyone becomes used to the new way of going to school. Everyone needs to be patient with each other because changes are hard to do, especially when there are so many happening at once.
1. Check the school website or contact your school to determine the details of the return to school from the coronavirus lockdown.
2. Talk to your children about aspects of returning to school in small chunks. Do not overwhelm them with too much information. It is okay to say, “I don’t know the answer, but I will try to find out for you.”
3. Try to be matter of fact about the entire situation. The calmer you are, the more relaxed your kids will be.
4. Remember to ask your child if they have any questions. Your child might be worrying about something that isn’t true. You can alleviate some of their stress with your answers.
5. If your child is anxious, you may want to consider a delayed entry back to school. Things will start to become routine after the first week, and that might be the most suitable time to have your child begin to participate in school.
6. Similarly, if your child becomes too anxious with all of the changes, you may want to withdraw them from school at this time, until things are less restrictive. Your child’s mental health is more important than academic progress over the next few months.
7. The school system is well aware that this is a difficult time. As a parent, you have the right to request support for your children and your family. So if you feel your child needs a special request, be sure to voice your concerns. Schools will take measures to accommodate all kids, if it is within their guidelines.
Remember, there is no textbook answer to the complications of the coronavirus. Don’t be reluctant to negotiate what you feel are the needs of your family. Contact the school with any of your concerns. They will make every effort to help you. We are all struggling to maintain our composure in these very trying times. And don’t forget to celebrate with your children their return to school.
Going to school is a big step back into our new normal state.
With careful preparations, your children can do their share in helping their community heal.