A new course has started. This will be the third that we live in a pandemic and the second “back to school” with the coronavirus present in our lives . In classrooms and schools , strict security measures will continue to prevent possible outbreaks of covid , especially the contagious delta variant . However, we have some advantage: the experience of the past year and the high vaccination rate of teachers and students over 12 years of age.
The day-to-day of the classes will not differ too much from what was experienced during the 2020-2021 academic year with the exception that attendance is once again total and the ratios increase . Although we continue to live with Covid-19 and pay attention to preventive measures, the uncertainty in the face of possible unexpected events seems less. However, the first days in the classroom represent a delicate time for children and parents each year .
There are many who suffer the so-called ‘separation anxiety’ or SAD , a psychological fact marked by the anxiety generated by distancing from home and people with whom they have a strong attachment relationship .
How to psychologically face the second return to school in a pandemic? A team of family psychologists from the online platform ifeel summarize in ten keys how children should face going back to the classroom and how parents can help them achieve it.
Parents are not the only ones who have doubts and to whom those doubts can generate anxiety. “The clearer everyone has what the new routine will be like in this back to school and the easier it will be to understand it.” Experts advise using stories and metaphors to give many examples, watching the language, with the little ones. However, teens and tweens can feel infantilized and ignored if these kinds of explanations are used.
Live the present
“At a time when the news changes from one day to the next, worrying about an uncertain future and constantly asking questions about it will only promote the appearance of worries, anxiety and other types of psychological problems,” they point out. It is important to focus on the present and not anticipate any event.
Specialists recommend adapting to the schedule change in advance since our body needs some time to get into the routine. “Going to bed and getting up late have little by little to stop being routine, even when the children are older.”
For psychologists it is advisable to hold all members of the family responsible for going back to school: preparing clothes, books, backpack, having homework organized, agenda … “Parents should not be the ones who control all this type of issues since, according to age, children must progressively gain more responsibilities and participate in decision-making during the school year ”.
Motivate, not transmit anxiety
Many parents are very concerned about going back to school, however, these concerns should not be passed on to their children. “When talking to them about the beginning of the course, we must motivate them and speak in a“ positive key ”. Otherwise we run the risk of fear and a negative attitude towards school ”, they explain.
Control of the time and content that is consumed through the screens. With the end of the online classes it is especially important to prevent the time that children and adolescents spend in front of the screens. “Just as quickly as technology has been our ally, it can turn against us and trigger problems of addiction, anxiety or depression, among others, if its use is excessive.”
Reserve a space for physical exercise
If extracurricular activities have been canceled or limited, it is recommended not to lose sight of the importance of promoting physical exercise and incorporating it into the routine for proper physical and mental development.
Within the daily routine, psychologists advise finding moments to talk about how the day has gone and the concerns or concerns that may arise. In addition, in these spaces it is best for the whole family to participate.
Plan the new routine
As far as possible, you should have everything organized so as not to be running from one place to another. “Being able to eat breakfast calmly and start the day with a positive attitude will make it easier to reduce the nerves of the first days,” they say.
Before all the possible changes or novelties that may arise, patience will be one of the best allies.
For her part, Susana Ortego, psychopedagogue specialized in 0-6 years and educational director at Brains Nursery Schools, provides some advice especially aimed at parents with children in this age group.
Transmit to the child the security and confidence that they know school and that it is a safe and positive place for them, as well as encouraging and motivating for the beginning of this new stage. “During the course, reward his efforts and achievements and help him build his self-confidence.”
Communication with the child and with the school teachers
It is important to know what the child’s condition is and how his adaptation progress is going, to detect problems or aspects in which the child needs help or support. “It is positive that the child sees that the father goes from time to time to school, to receive a talk, to a meeting or to see a theatrical performance, for example. So that in this way he relates both environments and acquires more confidence in the school ”.
If this type of situation cannot be carried out due to health measures, the expert considers it important for the school to promote the figure of the tutor: “It is good to talk to the child’s teacher to tell him how his child is and whenever a problem arises with the child derived from school or sees unusual behavior in him at home, report it to the school, and vice versa ”.
Gradual adaptation to new schedules
The sleep and rest rhythms of children are the same or more altered than those of adults when they have not gotten up early for several weeks or go to bed early. “The ideal is to introduce this change in their biological rhythm little by little.”
The expert points out that if the schedules are fixed (including those on weekends), and the mechanics of activities before going to bed and getting up as well (brushing teeth, putting on pajamas, reading a story the children will feel a nice feeling of security.
Reduce leisure time
It is not convenient to put an end to the moments of going out to play in the park and replace them with time to do homework. It is best to gradually reduce these hours to adapt them to the new school situation.
Spend time with family
The specialist recalls the importance of leisure. “Sometimes, due to work and the pace of life, families spend little time together. So that this is not an inconvenience for the little ones in the house, organize weekend excursions, help them with their homework or, in the same way, allow them to help prepare dinner with you ”.