7 ways to preparing for the 2021-2022 school year

The beginning of the new school year is only a few weeks away. With the rise of COVID19 once again, there are many unanswered questions and much uncertainty in regards to what the 2021-2022 school year will look like. As it stands most schools might require students to wear masks throughout their school day, some may opt not to. Many colleges and other higher education facilities are requiring proof of vaccination, others are not. Whatever the final decision may be for your specific school district and learning institution, there are steps you should follow to ensure your student is mentally and physically ready to do their best this upcoming school year.

Whether your child will attend school in person or online, here are a few suggestions to best prepare your child for a positive and successful year:

1. The importance of mental health and readiness

Make sure to keep open communication with your child. Validate all positive and anxious feelings and be age-appropriately honest with them at all times. Your attitude and beliefs will have a huge impact on your child’s thoughts and emotions, so make certain to engage with positivity and confidence. Children will feed off of you. If you are cool, calm and collected, so will they.

2. Have a clear plan for your family’s safety

Whatever your stance is on the benefits of masks and vaccination, have a clear plan about how your child and your family will stay safe amidst our current COVID circumstances, as well as when they change for better or worse. Know your school’s rules and cleaning protocols. Practice your specific safety plan depending on your choices and your school’s requirements (ie: proper handwashing, mask-wearing, social distancing and/or vaccinations). The clearer your plan, the better off everyone will be.

3. Encourage your student’s participation and input in the preparations

Depending on your child’s age, ask for their input on schooling decisions such as safety planning and specific details that would make them feel happier and more confident for their new school year. Create excitement in back-to-school shopping and allow your child choices for their supplies and clothing, as well as their at-home study area, when appropriate.

4. Scholastic readiness

Summer break is incredibly beneficial. We all need a break to renew and refresh, however, summer break is long and the summer slide is real. Take time every day to get back into a positive learning routine. Instill the importance of reading every day, enjoy some math games to brush up on past skills, go to a museum to explore science, history and art topics. The more you share in the value of learning, the more your child will adopt these positive attributes to their education.

5. Meet with your teacher(s)

When your school makes this information available, make sure you and your child have the opportunity to meet your teacher(s), whether virtually or in person, so you can get to know and feel comfortable with each other. Share fears and concerns and allow the teacher the opportunity to bond with your student. Be supportive of your teacher(s) and make sure you know their preferred way of communication and what they might need from you. Great communication from the start is key!

6. Set a clear schedule 

With your child’s input, set bedtimes and wake up, breakfast and departure times for each school day, then run through their daily at-school schedule and after-school expectations in regards to after-school activities and homework. Establish these clear routines and stay true to them throughout the year, with reasonable adjustments when necessary.

7. Create a backup plan

Should brick-and-mortar, in-person schools have to shut down again, have a clear plan in place for your child’s care and schooling. Know where your child will go, who will be able to look after them, as well as a nice, comfortable and convenient place for them to continue their schooling without distraction or interruption.

The 2021-2022 school year will most likely be another one for the books. Rules and protocols might change and we will comply and adapt to whatever will be best for our children and our families. Most importantly, as parents, we must take care of ourselves so we can best care for our children. If you find it challenging to remain positive or are feeling anxious, please make sure to seek help and guidance as well. Our children depend on us. We must make sure that, even during these most difficult times, we are at our best physically and mentally as well.

For a gentle ear and shoulder to lean on, and some advice, you might want to try: https://www.njmentalhealthcares.org/

Or this online app https://try.talkspace.com/