When the coronavirus pandemic began, many school buildings closed abruptly. Kids started distance learning. And families got used to the fact that kids weren’t going back to physical schools until at least the fall.
But back-to-school season is coming up, and some families still don’t know where and how their child will be learning. For kids who are heading back to school buildings, the CDC has issued safety guidelines for reopening. That means school is going to look very different this year.
Here are some common worries families have about back-to-school this year.
1. I don’t know what school’s going to look like, and I can’t plan.
It’s hard to plan for school when you don’t yet know if school is going to be remote, in-person, or a combination of the two. Do you need to find childcare, change your work schedule, or take time off work so you can be available to support at-home learning?
When you can’t plan, it’s hard to help your child get ready. You may not even know if you should be buying school supplies. Uncertainty can be especially tough for kids who need routine, structure, and an idea of what to expect to feel confident about going back.
2. I’m afraid to send my child back to school.
Some families don’t feel ready to have their kids go back to a school building. There’s a lot of anxiety around COVID-19 and how schools will handle safety and wellness. You may worry about your child getting sick or bringing the virus back home. Or you might be concerned that teachers will have a hard time enforcing all the safety rules.
3. I’m worried about my child’s mental health.
This has been a stressful time for many kids, and some have had a hard time coping. They may be acting up in ways they hadn’t before the pandemic and changes in routine. Some might feel anxious or afraid. If you’re worried about your child’s emotional health going back to school, you’re not alone.
4. I don’t know how my child will react to the changes at school.
No matter what type of schooling your child will have, it’s going to look different. And not all kids react well to change. You might worry that your child will have a hard time managing all of the new safety rules. You may be concerned that your child will struggle to make friends, either in person or virtually. Or you may be afraid that your child will just refuse to go to school altogether.
5. I’m worried that my child has fallen behind and won’t catch up.
Some kids thrived learning outside of the classroom. Others had difficulty with remote learning. With your child home more, you may have noticed struggles that make you worry about COVID slide (or loss of skills).
6. I don’t know what to say to a new teacher.
Kids didn’t really get to say goodbye to last year’s classmates and teachers. You likely didn’t either. If you had a good relationship and open communication with that teacher, it can be hard to think about transitioning to a new teacher. This year more than ever, it’s important to talk with your child’s teacher.
Teachers need to know if you’re worried about COVID slide or if your family experienced loss or illness. They also need to know how your child did with remote learning and more. Having this information helps teachers provide the support your child needs to come back to school.
If you’re not sure how to start that conversation, download a child status report you can fill in and give to the teacher.
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About the author
About the author
Amanda Morin is the director of thought leadership at Understood and author of “The Everything Parent’s Guide to Special Education.” She worked as a classroom teacher and early intervention specialist for more than a decade.