BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Going back to school for any child, no matter the age, can be filled with a mix of excitement, anxiety, worry and happiness. This upcoming school year will be one no one has experienced, which can lead to even more anxiety about the first day.
“Even if the pandemic was not happening, going back to school brings about so many different feelings for children,” said licensed psychologist Dr. Amy Beth Taublieb.
Change and uncertainty, she said, are two things no one deals with particularly well, especially kids. Anxiety about going back to school, she added, stems from previous experiences in the classroom, like bullying.
“What we’re talking about here are young individuals whose coping skills have no fully matured yet,” said Dr. Taublieb.
In-person, remote or hybrid, Dr. Taublieb said each start to school has its pros and cons.
“You want to present it in as positive a way as possible and you want to give your children the opportunity to ask any questions,” she said.
With about a week until school starts across Western New York, there are things parents should and should not be doing now to make the transition as smooth as possible.
Sugarcoat things: When kids ask questions, Dr. Taublieb suggests being direct. Present things “as calm and matter of fact” as possible. “Just reassure. And it will not take long when you talk to your child to see where the anxieties are,” she said.
Say anything that may need to be unsaid: Dr. Taublieb warns parents to be careful what words they use when speaking to their child. “You want to say, ‘Oh wow. You got a good model, that’s great.’ You don’t want to say, ‘Oh you got the best one,’ because in two weeks you may go back to another one,” she said.
Be positive: Dr. Taublieb said children take in from the environment around them. If their parents or guardians are worried, children can internalize this. Instead, she suggested to be positive about the upcoming school year and model in the district. “Now we need to keep in mind, many of these kids have had less than positive experiences with remote from March, April, May, on. So you want to reinforce to your child that the professionals…have had so many meetings and what they decided, at least for now, this is the best way to go.”
Keep traditions alive: As a family, continue back to school traditions, like back to school shopping or an ice cream run the night before school starts. “Familiarity for these kids is very, very reassuring,” she said.
Be direct: Dr. Taublieb said if a parent feels confident in how the schedule will work at home, children will too. Before sitting down to talk about the schedule, Dr. Taublieb said: “the parents need to have it pretty well confirmed in their minds.” Structure is key, according to Dr. Taublieb.
Ask their opinion: Start a conversation with your student about how they feel about being remote, going back to school or a mix of the two. For those that don’t share right away, Dr. Taublieb suggested parents to jump in with their thoughts. “When kids are going back face-to-face, they have a major anxiety that the remote kids don’t have.”
REMOTE MODEL/HYBRID MODEL:
Dedicate a school space for virtual learning: Dr. Taublieb suggested letting students pick out their own space to do schoolwork. That space can be a room, special chair, etc. “Just treat it as close as we’re going to school now as possible,” she said.