Collectively, as a nation, we are gearing up for a school year like no other. In New Jersey, there are various options and opportunities for our children, which has added a new layer of stress for parents. Of course, you are going to worry about your child’s education. You want the best for them! They deserve every chance to succeed. And, now, we have to consider the health impact of our choices too.
The stress and anxiety is affecting us all. No matter if your child is going back to school in person, remote learning, or some sort of hybrid. Either way, like most parents in New Jersey, you are probably experiencing some level of COVID anxiety. Perhaps you have decided on half days in New Providence. Or, every other day in Westfield. Maybe you’ll take the remote option in Cranford. Regardless, there is a lot to consider as you get your kids prepared. Over the next two weeks, we are going to discuss practical and psychological ways to prepare for back to school season during COVID.
Practical Preparation for School to Help Reduce Health Anxiety in New Jersey
There are so many ways we help our children learn about the world. We show them with our own behaviors. Other people, including other kiddos, influence the things they choose. We tell them what to do and how to act. Sometimes, we unintentionally send messages we never meant for them to pick up on. Now, there are new rules in school, our communities, and in life, to get used to. So, when it comes to helping our kids adjust to going back to school during a global pandemic, we need to draw from all three.
Here are some tips for helping to prepare children in New Jersey to go back to school in 2020:
Have your children and family practice with masks.
How much fun is it that we get to have a mini-Halloween parade every single day? Perhaps your budding fashionista likes to express their unique style? Mask wearing doesn’t have to be all about safety, it can actually be fun! Allow preschool and elementary school students to decorate their own masks. Create masks for school and other adventures together. Practice wearing masks at home with fun challenges. “Can you get through 10 minutes without touching your face?” Middle schoolers may love to have masks that match other pieces of clothing or that express their emerging personalities.
Discuss the importance of hand-washing and practice.
We know there are songs, timers, and countless tricks to help kids wash hands for the recommended 20-30 seconds with soap and water. Have them pick their own song if they don’t like singing happy birthday twice. Create a reward system to get them in practice. Elementary school kids are notorious for fast hand washing. So, make it a leisure activity! You can even encourage mindfulness techniques to help them stay present during these routine breaks in their day.
Talk to kids ahead of time about expectations for social distancing.
What is “social distancing”, really? Shouldn’t we be calling it “physical distancing”, or “giving people space”? Regardless of the terminology, you choose to adopt with your kids, the principles are the same. 6-12 feet of space. Wear a mask. Avoid physical contact. Always sneeze and cough into your “cough catcher” (elbow). Don’t touch your face. Elbow bumps instead of high fives when necessary. Whatever else you and your family decide to abide by, just make it common practice for a week or two. Then, it’ll be routine instead of rough.
Set the stage for online learning.
Create their remote learning space so they can feel organized and focused, but not isolated. Decorate, or let them decorate! Get a special place to store the tools they need. Ensure easy access to the required technology. Test your internet speeds two or three different times in a day. If it’s not adequate for downloading and uploading, consider an upgrade or requesting a resource from your child’s school.
Mind a schedule…even if you aren’t leaving the house.
- Put a family calendar in a central place with online and in-person appointments. Color code for different family members.
- Create schedules that include family time. If many family members are working from home, be sure everyone knows when to be quiet for each other. Consider 1:15-1:30 pm to be your “dance party time”. We do 1:00 pm gym time in our house!
- Develop and start their new routine.
- Keep tweaking until it works for your family. Have all family members help come up with ideas so everyone can own it. Routines should have the basics.
- Wake up time, Breakfast time, work time.
- Homework, dinner, and bedtime routines.
- Start shifting bedtimes and wake up times before school begins so that by the time school starts kids are used to the new routine. Take a responsible walk early in the day to get the blood pumping and focus those brain cells.
Back to School in 2020: Don’t forget the Basics!
Remember that going back to school is already an adjustment even without the extra stress of COVID. Don’t forget to do all the rituals you would normally do.
- Back to school clothing shopping together online.
- Pick out a bookbag or storage for remote schooling together.
- Talking about anxiety related to having a new teacher, making new friends or seeing old friends
Yes, we are in totally uncharted waters here. We don’t always know what to expect. But, we will get through this. No matter where you are in New Jersey, we can help. From our Scotch Plains counseling center, we now provide video therapy. Online therapy in New Jersey is effective and convenient. Let’s talk about your COVID anxiety and get those kiddos back to school in style.
Learn more about our Anxiety Treatment and Therapy Services here
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Start Anxiety Treatment in Westfield, Cranford, Scotch Plains, and surrounding areas.
Brave Minds Psychological Services in Scotch Plains, NJ helps adults, children and families overcome stress and worry with anxiety treatment. We can also help you with parenting, health anxiety, and more. Let our skilled and caring therapists provide a safe and comfortable therapy experience right here in New Jersey. To begin counseling, there are a few simple steps:
- Connect with Brave Minds Psychological Services today.
- Get your questions answered in a free phone consultation call with one of our compassionate therapists.
- Feel more confident about your child’s school year, even in this time of COVID.
Other Therapy Services At Brave Minds Psychological Services
At Brave Minds Psychological Services, we offer a variety of services from our licensed therapists in order to get you on the right path to healing and wholeness. Our therapeutic services include therapy for children, anxiety treatment for children, child sexual abuse therapy, therapy for teens, anxiety treatment for teens, teen social phobia therapy, adult anxiety counseling, couples counseling, counseling for parents, postpartum counseling, birth trauma therapy, and sexual assault counseling for adults. We also have a blog where we write about a variety of different mental health subjects. If you’re interested in learning more about our services here at Brave Minds Psychological Services or online, please contact our Scotch Plains counseling office! Proud to serve Fanwood, Westfield, Cranford, New Providence, and surrounding areas.