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Over the last few weeks I have been pondering a difficult decision. With all the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic, I honestly do not know how I feel about my children returning to school – whether that means virtual learning or in the classroom.  

Many of these feeling came when our school district distributed a survey regarding back to school. I assumed it would be a survey with many questions regarding the return to school with several questions regarding virtual and classroom attendance. I was surprised the survey was one question: Are you sending your child to school or will they be doing virtual learning? This left me with racing questions! How can they have 75 students on a bus and social distance? How can they logistically serve the whole school lunch and maintain social distancing and food safety? If one student or staff member is diagnosed with COVID-19 are they going to quarantine that class or the whole school? If I choose virtual learning, how engaging will it be?  

The decision of sending my children to school or learning virtually has been difficult. My husband and I are not alone. Parents across the world will make this decision, and even if it is different than ours, I am sure that this has been difficult for all parents! As parents navigating in an uncertain world, we need to support each other and our children. Here are some tips to help support your child going back to school whether they are returning to school or learning virtually:

  •  Empathize with your child(ren) and understand they may be feeling anxious or worried about COVID-19. Remind them that there are many effective things we can do to keep ourselves and other safe such as washing our hands, not touching our face, and social distancing. 
  • Children do better with structure. Routine gives children a sense of security so even when there are abrupt changes, they know some things in their day will be the same. Allow your children to help design the schedule.  
  • Encourage your child(ren) to feel their emotions. Just like us they are missing out on events that are important to them. Acknowledge their feelings of anger, frustration, and sadness when they have missed out on ball games, dances, sleepovers with friends, etc. In a child’s eyes these are major losses. Tell them it is ok to feel the way they do. 
  • Find distractions and balance. Kids need relief from feeling frustrated. Be creative with your distractions. You can have a family game night, picnic supper outside, virtual play date with friends, or listen to music and dance!

As parents we are feeling overwhelmed and anxious too. Make sure you exercise self-care, so your children can rely on you to provide safety and security. 

Written by: Kellie Lemly, MS, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Champaign County, lemly.2@osu.edu

Reviewed by:  Dr. Roseanne E. Scammahorn, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Darke County, scammahorn.5@osu.edu

Resources:

Bailey, B. (2020, March 18).  COVID-19:  Five Helpful Responses for families.  Retrieved on July 23, 2020 from https://consciousdiscipline.com/covid-19-five-helpful-responses-for-families/?mc_cid=2df75cbd90&mc_eid=ca6418d16f

UNICEF, (2020). Supporting your child’s mental health as they return to school during COVID-19. Retrieved on July 23, 2020 from https://www.unicef.org/coronavirus/supporting-your-childs-mental-health-during-covid-19-school-return

Nationwide Children’s Hospital, (2020). Schedules and Routines. On Our Sleeves. Retrieved on July 23, 2020 from https://www.nationwidechildrens.org/giving/on-our-sleeves/find-help/tools-for-you/coronavirus/schedules

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