This September, children heading back to the classroom face many unique challenges. One significant concern is fear of being apart from their families after months of togetherness.
As parents and guardians, you can play a significant role in how your child handles the unknown. Your positive tone will have a considerable impact on how well they respond to change.
Four ways to support your child as they return to school
- Take care of yourself, so you can do your best to help your children. This means taking time each day to do something for yourself, so you feel well and happy.
- Talk to your child about the return to school. Have open and regular conversations with your child about how they feel about going back to school.
- Be patient with the transition. Transitioning back to school will take some time. Be patient with your child and yourself– they’ll get there. Focus on listening to their experiences with empathy.
- Establish familiar routines. Reintroduce everyday practices like family meals, consistent bedtime schedules, and morning routines to ease the transition back to school.
Conversation starters for the return to school
Take the time to talk with your child. Here are some open-ended conversation starters to help open up a dialogue:
- How do you feel about this school year?
- What’s one thing you feel excited about?
- Is there anything you feel a bit worried about?
- How can I help you to feel comfortable about school?
Resources for parents
To further support you and your family through the back-to-school season, here are several helpful resources and organizations you can reach out to for support.
- How to support your child’s mental health during COVID-19 (School Mental Health Ontario)
- Four skills that build an optimistic mindset (School Mental Health Ontario)
- Six stress management and coping strategies for students (School Mental Health Ontario)
Crisis support & Counselling
- 24/7 crisis line and crisis chat for Ottawa children and youth (Youth Services)
- 24/7 counselling and referral services for children and youth (Kids Help Phone)
- Free phone & video counselling (Counselling connect)
Dr. Richard Bolduc is the mental health lead at the OCSB.