6 Tips for Helping Your Child Cope This School Year

How to navigate this new school year

Here’s how you and your kids can make the most of this new school year.

The Boise school district has officially reopened for the fall of 2020 with both in-person and online learning options.

Although the return of in-person learning is very exciting, life for our kids still hasn’t exactly returned to normal. Social distancing, the use of masks, reduced class sizes, and more can make the classroom feel foreign. And for families that have elected to stay home, kids may feel equally frustrated or stressed.

Parenting is never an easy task, especially right now with so many constantly changing factors in our kids’ lives. To help our fellow Boise parents, we’ve gathered 6 valuable tips for supporting our kids through these changes.

1. Encourage open conversations about school and what’s going on in the world.

Regular communication via family meetings or simple personal chats is a good way for parents to check in with how their kids are doing mentally. Even though we know our kids better than anyone, they can be masters at hiding their emotions.

Invite them to ask you questions or just share their thoughts about what’s going with school, their personal lives, and current events in our world. Share your own thoughts as well and let them know that even adults are having a tough time right now.

2. Design a flexible daily schedule that will also provide structure to keep your child on track.

We’re all creatures of habit that thrive on routines. If your child is returning to in-school learning, they’ll already have a general schedule to follow. But if you’ve decided to keep your kids home for a while longer, a schedule is going to be instrumental in giving them structure and focus.

The key is to design a schedule that’s flexible and works with your kid’s ideas rather than against them. You can also speak with their teacher to see what sort of schedule would work well for the virtual schooling portion of your kid’s day.

3. Ask your child for their input on big decisions regarding their education, such as returning to in-school learning.

Although the school year has already started, many parents who’ve chosen online learning will eventually have to decide whether to continue with it or switch back to in-school learning. This decision is up to you in the end, but it’s important that your child’s feelings and ideas are validated.

If you and your child butt heads, use the conflict as an opener for a conversation. Perhaps your child is upset you’ve chosen to keep them home while their friends are going back to school. Acknowledge their frustration and explain to them why you’ve chosen this option, then listen to the points your child shares.

4. Invite your kids to practice guided meditation and deep breathing exercises with you when they feel stressed.

Self-care isn’t just for stressed-out parents! School-aged kids and teens can really benefit from it. Even toddlers can join in when they feel upset or cranky.

With household stress levels still being high, especially with the start of a new school year, taking a break to practice deep breathing or listen to a guided meditation are both simple but powerful stress relievers. Invite your kids to do these things with you as a way to enjoy one another’s company and build your bond.

5. Set up regular supervised Zoom study groups with your kids’ friends.

Loneliness can be a problem for kids who are learning from home, especially if they feel left out as friends return to school. Thankfully our modern technology makes it easy for our kids to maintain their friendships on a daily basis.

Set up regular video calls between your kids and their friends. Using a platform like Zoom, you can host group reading times, virtual study hall sessions, and whatever else you and your kids can think of. Even if your kids return to school, following through with these virtual learning sessions can be beneficial since social distancing is still very important.

6. As a parent, keep in mind that being your child’s safe space also means you’ll be coping with their negative outbursts.

Having your child share their personal thoughts with you is a rewarding experience as a parent. But it’s important to keep in mind that being a trusted safe space for your child also means handling outbursts and negativity.

Your child might have tantrums, argue, disobey, and generally act out when they feel frustrated and overwhelmed. You can often be the target of these outflowing negative emotions. When this happens, take a breather and remind yourself that your child is sharing these painful moments with you because you make them feel safe and secure.

Do your best to not take it personally and simply allow them to get their emotions off their chest. Listen first, and then if needed, offer advice and guidance on how they’re feeling and how they can better express their emotions in the future.

The Staley Dental team wishes you and your family a rewarding new school year.

Dr. Staley and most of his dental team are parents with children who are going through the very same things as your family. Although Boise is slowly making steps to return to normal, times are still pretty tough, especially for youngsters who feel frustrated by the end of the last school year.

We want to wish your family the best for this new school year and also drop a friendly reminder that it may be time to book those year-end dental exams or cleanings. If it’s been six months or so since your family’s last visit with us, give our office a call to book those appointments now.