For many school districts across the country, remote learning is still in session, and parents are continuing to juggle a ‘temporary’ schedule that has more than worn out its welcome. However, as 2020 comes to a close and a new year begins, many schools will be embarking on ‘return to learn’ initiatives and welcoming students back into their school buildings.

For some parents, the only issue causing more anxiety than the chaos of remote learning is the thought of transitioning their kids’ schedules back to a regular school day routine. After what has been the longest summer break ever, how do parents get their kids ready for a completely different daily structure?

Return to Learn: Transitioning Your Kids From Remote to In-Person Learning

Depending on the ages of your children, your challenges will vary. Older students who have been up all night, taking advantage of modified class times will need different acclimation strategies than younger students. And children experiencing anxiety at the thought of a change in their routine will need some extra care and coaxing.

The following is a Basic Starter Pack of tips to get all of your children back in the mindset needed for success in a regular school day.

Start positive talk about returning to school

As parents, you have the most influence over your children. They watch and learn from you, and they listen to what you say, even if you swear they don’t. They especially listen to what is being said about them when we think they are not paying attention.

If you begin to talk casually and positively to them and around them about returning to school, they have more time to let the idea set in. Some children will not need such ‘prepping’ because they will be ready to assimilate without a hitch.

However, if your child is anxious or just plain apathetic about returning to school, positive talk can guide them to a better place in their minds and allow them to reframe their thoughts.

Enforce simple routines

Even though remote learning is still ‘school,’ the usual school routines like bedtime, wake time, and eating habits are probably not the same. Some children will need a gradual re-adjustment to old ways, especially if they have had a lot more freedom while remote learning. 

Going forward with a Drill Sargent attitude will most likely be met with resistance, only have mediocre results, and you will probably abandon any new rules in a few days. Instead, ease your children into their new routines, giving them plenty of time to adjust. For example, if your 4th grader’s bedtime is 8:30 pm during regular school schedules, maybe make the compromise that 8:30 is now the time he or she must start ‘quiet time’ consisting of reading or watching a TV in their bedroom. You can gradually begin to adjust that timeframe as the days inch toward returning to school.

But probably the most essential factor in setting a good routine is not bedtime, but wake time. Again, gradually start having reasons for them to wake earlier, so that first day back is not a disaster trying to get them out of bed. Of course, one extra perk of having an earlier wake time for your children is the bedtime will eventually fall in line.

Do some back-to-school shopping

Many children look forward to back-to-school shopping. For those who love to end their summer by getting clothes, shoes, notebooks, and folders ready for another school year, they got completely ripped off this year.

Because many schools did not reopen after the summer break, a whole slew of children missed out on one of the most important rites of summer’s end. However, you can use back-to-school shopping as a way to get your kids excited about school. Find out from their teachers what they need when returning to the classroom and have a regular back-to-school shopping experience.

Discuss how in-person school will probably still be different

The return to in-person learning will still have lingering effects of COVID-19 restrictions. Students and school personnel will be wearing masks and social distancing. These concepts might be difficult for younger students to understand, so some practice at home is in order. 

Older students might be disappointed that so much is different than before the pandemic. An essential part of the school experience is the social aspect. Many of the extra events, such as dances and athletic competitions, will probably still be canceled. Talking with your children and letting them know you understand their disappointments and frustrations will be a critical part of helping them deal with having fewer social events at school and after school hours.

Keep the positive talk flowing even after they return

For some students, the return will be magical, and they will thrive regardless of what life throws their way. However, for some, it will be a struggle. And to make that struggle worse, many of the familiar things about school that they remembered will be changed — maybe forever.

Keeping the home talk positive and teaching your children to ‘look on the bright side’ will become your new superpower. Eventually, most students will settle into their new school routines, and life will get easier for everyone. Until then, remember that they hear you — so stay positive!

Return to learn

There you have it! A definite ‘return to learn’ plan to help you and your children transition back to old routines. The key will be to start now and give everyone plenty of time to prepare for the adjustment mentally. For some children, this switch will be difficult. Have patience and compassion when implementing the tips above, and everyone will have a better ‘return to learn’ experience.

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