Back to School 2021: What Parents & Kids Can Expect

Updated: Oct 29, 2021


fter the last year and a half of totally unprecedented times for parents and kids, it may feel a bit strange to be heading into a new school year that looks somewhat “normal.”

In most places, masks will be the norm and there will be a variety of other changes to help minimize the risks of in-person instruction. But otherwise, this may well be the closest your children have been to pre-pandemic life in a long time.

So, what should we expect as we head into this year?

1. Let’s Do Our Part

It’s important for parents to stay educated and up to date with current recommendations and policies from the CDC as well as their local school district. Take the time to share this info with your kids in ways they can understand so that they can do their best to follow the rules and stay safe while in school and extra-curricular activities. Getting this virus under control requires team effort!

2. Emphasize Routines

It’s a big adjustment to go from school in the living room to school in the classroom. Your little ones will probably have to wake up earlier, do more prep in the mornings and remember more things. Here are a few tips to get them back in the swing of things:

· Practice morning routines on non-school days.

· Create visual reminders around the house to help keep them on track.

· Involve them in creating routines that work for them.

· Set expectations and routines for after school and bedtime too.

· Try to be patient as they get reacquainted with these new routines.

3. Talk through the Social/Emotional Side

There’s no doubt that it’s good for kids to be with their peers. But after a year and a half of pandemic isolation, it may be daunting to go back to being in a classroom with dozens of other kids. Take some time to talk to them about their feelings. Ask what they’re looking forward to most and if there’s anything they’re nervous about. Once school is in session, continue checking in regularly about the social and emotional aspects of being back in person – both the good and the bad.

4. Talk about Masks

Different states and school districts may have different policies on masks. First and foremost, follow the rules of the school. But don’t forget to check out recommendations from organizations like the CDC and American Academy of Pediatrics. Finally, talk to your children about your own expectations. If their school isn’t requiring masks but you are, take the time to talk about the fact that just because other kids aren’t wearing them doesn’t mean the rule changes for them. You may also want to let your child’s teacher know that you expect them to be masked all day – this way, the teacher can remind them if they see them without a mask.

5. Trust Your Kids

Whether you’re dropping your kid off at college or 3rd grade, at some point you have to let go a little bit. This may be especially difficult after having them so close for the last year and a half. But you have to trust that the values and expectations you’ve taught at home will carry them through the challenging situations they may encounter in the world.

One of the best things you can do now and always is keep the lines of communication open. Make sure your kids know that there’s nothing they can tell you that will make you judge them. Ask questions, listen well, and offer support as your children navigate the new normal in a new school year.