prepping for a new school year

prepping for a new school year

katherine guzman


katherine guzman was born and raised in massachusetts. she attended fairfield university where she graduated with a b.a. in art history and english. immediately following graduation, katherine began teaching in dorchester, ma. while teaching in the city, katherine attended regis college and received her masters in elementary education with special needs. she continued to teach in the city for ten years in parochial, public, and independent schools and has taught all grades from pre-kindergarten through grade 4. aside from teaching, katherine loves reading, testing new recipes, organizing, and decorating. katherine lives outside of the city with her husband and step-daughters and is expecting her first child this fall.

no matter what form of learning your child is facing in this upcoming year, there is no question that nerves are most likely a factor in the anticipation. for children that will be entering school for full-time learning, they will be surrounded by masked faces, one-way stairwells, and social distancing regulations. for any adult, any of these adjustments would understandably instigate anxiety or feelings of uncertainty. for children, this could be an insurmountable level of “newness.” if your child's school is opting for a hybrid or virtual model, there will certainly be new adjustments to acclimate to, if and when they enter their school. in addition, any virtual learning will reignite feelings of separation and isolation from friends, teachers, and their regular school schedule.

before your child’s year begins, take time to familiarize yourself with the new school policies so that you and your family can have an open and honest conversation about what is to be expected. it is incredibly important to be honest about what your child is going to experience. holding back information, glazing over new rules, or simply not engaging in dialogue about this upcoming year will only impede your child’s ability to adjust. worry and anxiety are manifested in the unknown, and now is the best time to be transparent so that you can properly support your child’s emotional needs.

as a parent, these changes may be creating worries and anxieties as you look to what your child is going to be experiencing. furthermore, you may be concerned with how to manage another round of zoom-filled, online learning. although this is not a situation in which we have control to alter the reality, we can look at what would improve the day-to-day well-being of your child’s learning and your family’s quality of life. there are some simple action steps you can take that may help you, your child, and your family prepare for the start of the school year.

if your child is old enough to read through his or her school’s COVID-19 policies, it would be hugely helpful to make that a family activity. take apart the list and break it down into smaller parts if you feel it is too much to read and discuss at once. this way, your child will have time to think about and reflect upon what changes he or she can expect upon entering a school building or zoom session. if your child is of the age where they need to be read to, dissect the school’s policies by phrasing it in age-appropriate words.

perhaps hybrid or virtual learning is the approach to the year. it is very common for children during this pandemic to feel sad, apathetic, or even show signs of depression. children need social connections, just like adults. if you feel your child is particularly upset about not being able to spend time with his or her friends, perhaps there are two or three families that will all be quarantining, and therefore, children in the same class could get together on virtual days for their classes. although this would require oversight from a parent, it might be a nice compromise for both the children and adults. perhaps each family could “host” one day of virtual learning in their home, for a set grade or class cohort. not only does this relieve the other parents from a day, or more, of at-home learning, but it will allow children to leave their home. This may seem

trivial, but students want to feel as though they have some normalcy. just as adults working from home craved the opportunity to leave the house to work, children mirror those feelings with wanting school to be outside of the house.

lastly, don’t be afraid to contact your child’s teacher if you feel they need to know about the emotional toll this is taking on your son or daughter. a teacher is only going to be a better advocate for your child if they know what is going on at home as it affects their student. not all teachers or schools may be prepared to make every adjustment necessary to fit all of your child’s needs, especially if school is virtual. however, if they know your son or daughter needs more support or help, having time before the year gets into full-swing will only benefit your child.

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