Health Wise: Maneuvering a COVID School Year

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This school year is a little different.

What will this school year be like? This is something a lot of parents have been considering for the past few weeks. At this point, school is under way for most. Choices have been made, technology for virtual schooling is on board, protocols for in-person schooling are in action, and scheduling for hybrid setups has been decided. Undoubtedly, kids, parents, and teachers are now starting to feel the impact of these changes.

As therapists, we know that change of any kind is challenging, and we’ve all had so many changes this year already. So, our hearts go out to our to the kids, the parents, and the educators navigating the murky waters of school during COVID-19. We would like to share some tips, old and new, that can help with some of the challenges that you might be experiencing.

Tips for helping kids handle change:

  • Encourage expressing feelings in healthy ways
  • Help kids find words for how they feel and validate all feelings they are expressing
  • Address fears and worries, and then work together to find the silver linings

Tips for virtual or hybrid schooling:

  • Designate a place in your home where you can post a daily schedule, for them and for you, that you child can easily reference.
  • Have some consistency each day, including a consistent sleep schedule, regularly scheduled meals, and unwinding/rewarding activities each evening
  • For virtual days, make sure kids have built in breaks and healthy snacks available to them
  • Ask your kids what they need to succeed, and try your best to help them make it happen. Show them that they’re not alone in this different experience.
  • Try reset breaks and mindful activities (meditation, yoga, art, sensory breaks, music - some ideas on this YouTube channel!) to prevent overwhelm or address it if it does happen.

Tips for parents and educators:

  • Practice Forgiveness - Forgive yourself if you’re off to a rocky or anxious start, forgive the kids if they’re having a rough start as well.
  • Expect mood swings and behavior issues to increase. Be ready with some empathy and compassionate strategies to address these issues.
  • Try to get social support from peers who are in the same boat.
  • Try to build in at least a few minutes each day to practice some muscle relaxation, mindful breathing, and gratitude practice. Find ideas on our YouTube channel, they're great for adults too!
  • Reflect and adjust - each day and each week is a new opportunity! This is a brand new situation and it’s ok to take your time figuring it out.

Please know that all your feelings are valid and try to practice some of the tips above.

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