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Navigating a New “Back to School” With Virtual Learning

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Kids usually have mixed emotions as summer ends and a new school year begins. They may be anxious to see their friends again and get back to after-school sports or other activities, but at the same time miss the freedom of summer break.

The 2020-21 school year will likely bring a whole new set of emotions, with many children who are used to attending school in person now being taught virtually from home.

If you’re the parent of children who are getting ready to begin their virtual learning school year, here are some tips for helping them ease into the transition.

Establish New Routines

Setting and maintaining a routine is important to kids. Especially while your home is being used as both home and school, adding structure to the school portion of their day is key.

The structure of routine makes kids feel more comfortable and know what they can anticipate on a daily basis. You should make sure your child knows what to expect in terms of chores, homework, wake-up and bedtimes, and mealtimes. This structure will carry over into the school portion of the day and can help your child acclimate to the new learning environment. Just because school is at home, it doesn’t mean they can play video games or stay in their pajamas throughout the day — so setting these home/school periods is important.

You can also “talk up” the benefits of being at home, especially if your child is upset about not returning to their school building. This may mean focusing on how nice it is to sleep in for those extra couple of minutes they would be commuting or being able to spend more time with their pets, parents and/or siblings.

Listen to How They’re Feeling

It’s important to acknowledge everything your child is feeling, especially at the start of the school year since it tends to cause so much anxiety, and perhaps even more so with the additional changes this year.

Make conversations about your child’s school day a regular part of your family routine. Dinnertime is a great opportunity to ask your child about the best part of his or her day, along with the most challenging aspects. Finding out sooner rather than later that your child is having a rough start with virtual learning increases the chances you can help them turn it around and achieve success in school.

Is your child missing their friends while they’re in virtual school? There could be an opportunity to speak to other parents about coordinating a video chat for your kids, so they can catch up and compare what they’re learning. Maintaining friendships may be more difficult with distance learning, but video chats or writing pen pal letters could help fill that void.

Allow your child to safely experience the range of emotions that come with a new school year. Encourage them to talk openly and don’t dismiss any feelings, even when they seem over-the-top to you. If a child feels their feelings aren’t being respected, they aren’t likely to share them with you in the future. 

Check on Their Health

Just because your child isn’t physically heading “back to school,” it’s still necessary to stay up to date on their checkups and physicals, whether in person or by video visit.

Back-to-school physicals (also called well-child exams) are a chance for the pediatrician to evaluate your child’s growth and development, screen for common childhood conditions and make sure immunizations are up to date.

Before the visit, think about any questions you have related to your child’s health. Maybe you’re worried about your child’s new routine, sleep habits, screen time or fitness level. If so, be sure to write your questions down. Back-to-school physicals can be busy, and it’s easy to forget what you wanted to ask.

When you check-in for your child’s appointment, let the care provider know about your questions so they can give the doctor a heads up.

If you need a pediatrician or family medicine doctor, we’re here to help.  Find a doctor  who will be your child’s partner in whole health today. For more information on children’s care at AdventHealth, click here.

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