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Back-to-School Tips for the New Normal

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Julie Landry Laviolette

Back-to-school time is here, and we are once again looking at a “new normal.” Most kids will be heading back to the classroom after a year of online learning. This can be a big adjustment for young ones who spent a school year looking at a screen for education and socialization. Here are some tips to make a smooth back-to-school transition:

Establish routines

If your child was learning remotely during the pandemic, it's been a long year of rolling out of bed and on to the computer. Make sure to establish morning routines, wake-up times, drop-off scenarios, extracurricular activities and other changes from a remote-only schedule.

Expect some anxiety

While some kids are excited to return to a life of school clubs, pep rallies and seeing friends at lunch every day, others may have adjusted well to a slower pace at home. The isolation of online learning from the home may make some kids anxious to return to a traditional school setting. Be prepared to talk through these uncertainties and let your child express his concerns.

Practice bedtime

A week or so before the first day of school, have your child gradually return to their school year bedtime. This will help them adjust their body clock, making it easier to be alert and ready to learn when the first school bell rings.

Shop for school supplies

If your child is less than excited about returning to the classroom, head out to buy fresh new school supplies. A lunch box with their favorite cartoon character, some new clothes, cute notebooks or a new pair of sneakers can go a long way in stoking their enthusiasm.

Learn the rules

Rules that kids followed throughout the pandemic may be changing as the new school year starts. Find out from your school system what the guidelines are regarding masks, hand washing, hand sanitizer and social distancing to ensure your child understands the rules and is prepared.

Wean from screens

Parents used to worry that kids had too much screen time. Then the pandemic hit and life became “all screens, all the time.” Talk to your child about a return to face-to-face learning and what that will mean for them in the classroom.

Reestablish real life

During the pandemic (and even before) many kids connected via social media, online games and chat sites. Try to reintroduce habits like play groups and meeting at the playground, or outings like bike riding, playing sports or hanging out in the backyard with friends. After a year of alone time, some kids may be worried about reestablishing friendships when they return to campus.

Look back

Transitioning from remote learning to in-class instruction can be a big leap. It's important to look back over the last year and figure out what good habits came of it. Did siblings help each other study? Did parents and children spend more time together over math assignments? Take the positives and use them in forming new habits. Also talk about bad habits that formed – such as how technology replaced real-life interactions – and why it's a better idea to do things a different way.

Set the tone

Parents can lead by example when it comes to a positive attitude about the school year. You don't have to pretend everything will be perfect. Just share your enthusiasm and hope for a good year and the return to normal, whatever that normal looks like.

Make the back-to-school transition easier with a little planning and a positive attitude.

Julie Landry Laviolette is a freelance writer who specializes in personal finance, health and living well. Find her on Twitter at @JulieLavio.

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.