(This post is part of a series of 5 blogs meant to help families of children grades K-3 cope with school this fall. Links to the other four at the end of this post)
We all need social and emotional health checks and support. These are absolutely crazy times, though, and I want to take a moment to show you how school this fall will potentially look like from your child's perspective and how you can help them through this phase.
1. Let's say they go back to school.
School will look very different. On the plus side, they will get to go to school, leave the house, go up and down some stairs, see their friends, and interact directly with their teacher.
On the other hand, they will need to wear masks, keep social distance, stay in their seat all day and stare at a masked teacher. Interaction with others is very limited, and while they see their friends they probably can't play together the way they used to.
What kind of child do you think will return home to you at the end of such a day?
A realistic representation is agitated, frustrated, and feeling isolated even if they just spent their day with friends. Expect a lot of bottled energy too.
2. Now let's say they stay at home.
Now the mask is off, and they can walk around, play, and eat more freely. But, they will require more attention, which you might not be able to provide. They will be learning and socializing on a screen, which is not the same as the physical social interaction that they need to stay healthy.
What kind of child will you be spending your time with at home at the end of such a day?
I would imagine exhausted, craving social interaction, and with a lot of bottled energy as well.
3. Blended approach?
That is when children go to their physical school a couple of days a week and then do virtual learning a couple of days a week. While this approach brings on the best of both worlds, it also raises a disruption in routine, which typically doesn't quite sit well with children.
Is there no winning deal here?
No. There really isn't. We need to face and accept that this school year will be hard on everyone, and then look for ways to help our children work with it. Below are five ideas to help you get started.
5 Ways To Kickstart Your Family's Social & Emotional Nurturing
1. Active playtime and big art! As soon as you can, give your child a chance to release this bottled energy. A park, a sport, colored chalk in the driveway, wash the car, walk the dog...just try to release this energy.
2. Talk about their experience and set realistic expectations.
3. Set stepping stones for your child to focus on all day.
These are small goals that are scattered throughout the day to keep your child's attention where you want it and help them feel that they are accomplishing something all day long.
How the 1,2,3 strategy works: color (1) page beautifully, get (2) stars/stamps for work well done, and raise your hand to engage in class (3) times. You can set any goals you think your child is capable of, and up to 5 goals for older children.
4. Act it out. Providing a safe space for your family to act out different situations can be very helpful. Try these scenarios:
a. Your child has to teach you something with a mask on.
b. A situation from your work with a mask on.
c. Also with masks on: A grocery store, doctor's office, ticket office, police station...etc.
d. Try to show happiness, sadness, fear, anger, and excitement:
- With your entire body. Try big theatrics.
- This time with masks on your face.
- With your eyes only and a mask on your face.
e. Play out a favorite story with your eyes only.
5. Meditate. There are some wonderful guided meditations for children that can be downloaded for easy access. These can double up as a trusted space to go to whenever your child wants to and listen to them however many times it takes to feel better.
More from this series to help families with children grades K-3 get their homes and families ready for school this fall:
* Nurture Your Family's Social & Emotional Health This Fall (This Post)