10+ Tips for a Positive School Transition During the Pandemic

Dear Parents & Friends,

The back to school transition is always filled with a wide array of emotions, and this year certainly has its added challenges. All of our staff therapists have shared tips (for both parents and students) for making this school transition as positive as possible. Please read on and find at least one that you know will be important for you and your family. Write it down, and refer to it often.

We’re wishing you all the best!

Tips for Parents:

Provide a safe space for your children to discuss their feelings, worries, concerns, excitements, things they are looking forward to and things they are not looking forward to. Allow that space to be free of judgement and really listen. Ask your child how you can help. Check in regularly.
-Maria Antoniou, LMFT

Acknowledge any worries or fears (“I can see why that feels so scary.”) and avoid pitfalls of dismissing or invalidating (“You shoudn’t feel scared. It’s not that big of a deal. Everything will be fine.”).
Connecting with your child’s emotional experience can lead to more solution-focused conversation whereas the second approach will likely shut down communication.
-Natalie Edelhauser, LCSW

As the school year begins, there are many feelings that may surface. We encourage you to show your kids in words and actions, that you care enough to walk beside them as they step back into the classroom. This can be done by initiating conversations, reminding them of the friends they have missed or exploring new activities they can join.
-Julia Hayward, LCSW 

Let your kids know that you are there to listen and talk with them. But try not to overwhelm them with a lot of questions. Although academics/grades are extremely important, keep in mind that socialization and emotional highs and lows might be initial challenges and may take precedence when starting back at school again in the Fall.
-Althea MacDonald, LPC HTR

My number one tip for parents is to establish solid routines for their children. Routines reduce anxiety, allow children to know what to expect and give children a sense of control over their environment. Bedtime routines are especially important and a good night’s sleep is probably the most helpful gift you can give to help your child succeed in school!
-Aliza Mendel, LCSW

Consider limiting exposure to news coverage, including social media. Focus on providing a structure in and out of the classroom. This will better manage children’s emotional well-being. For instance, keep your children active in sports, hobbies and the things that keep their minds active. This will decrease anxiety and allow them to just be kids.
-Jodi Murphy, LCSW

Set the tone. As a parent, your response, participation, and support for the school year will most likely determine your child’s success. Stay positive and encourage your child to learn, adapt, change, and grow no matter what the future may bring.
-Erminia Severini, LPC

When it comes to transitions, I think it can be helpful to identify what went well. I often encourage clients to journal each evening before bed, and identify one thing that went well, one thing they would like to try differently tomorrow, and one thing from the day that they are proud of. It can also be helpful for parents to have this conversation with their kids each day during the transition period back to school.
-Katie Worden, LCSW

Tips for Students:

About a week or so before school reopens for the school year, practice your morning routine for school.  Sleep earlier the night before, find clothes to wear from the night before; set up an alarm to get up from bed, brush teeth, change clothes, eat breakfast. Perhaps set some time for a 2 minute stretch to help you feel energized and ready for the day.
-Maria Antoniou, LMFT

Gradually increase your connection with peers in-person. This can be done attending outdoor events or gatherings. Warm up your conversation skills and allow yourself to get used to being around more people so the adjustment to the school setting isn’t such a jolt.
-Natalie Edelhauser, LCSW

One challenging aspect of getting back into the swing of school is the schedule. Start practicing by going to bed earlier as September gets closer. This will help make the adjustment easier on you physically and mentally.
-Julia Hayward, LCSW

Breathe. Deep breathing techniques will help you feel more calm and less stressed. Practice 4-7-8 breathing: Breathe in through your nose for 4 seconds, hold it for 7 seconds, and then breathe out of your mouth for 8 seconds. Another strategy for dealing with anxiety and/or stress is to say a positive affirmation to yourself every morning. Some examples of positive affirmations are: “I can get through this;” “I can do hard things;” “Every day is a fresh start.” And guess what? You can do this!
-Althea MacDonald, LPC HTR

Most kids have some back to school jitters. Pease know that this is perfectly normal and does not mean that things will go poorly. Remember past times when you have felt anxious but things have turned out well and focus on the positive experiences you have had in school with the knowledge that there will be a lot more good times to come.
-Aliza Mendel, LCSW

Ask for help. Whether it’s extra help in math, staying organized, or just needing someone to talk to. You’re not alone. Now, more than ever, we all need extra support, and that’s ok!
-Erminia Severini, LPC, Staff Therapist

Here’s to your Well Being!
The Well Being Therapy Center Staff