September – my favorite month of the year! And not just because it’s my birthday month but because of those crisp cool nights, the beautiful leaves beginning to change colors and the sound of school buses out on the streets. But this Fall season is different. Different for everyone - whether you're back in the classroom or starting this academic semester remotely. Despite the uncertainty of these new environments, one thing is certain: back to school is a time where stress levels increase, flu season begins, and all of these new changes have the kids equally as excited as their parents are anxious.
Think about it… at school everyone is wearing a mask, kids can't see when their teachers are smiling at them, and desks are spaced out so they can’t interact with the friends that they haven’t seen since March. It's normal to feel a level of stress during these times. The most important thing we can all do right now is to take care of one another and stay safe. So how do we do that? Practice good hygiene, hydrate daily and make healthy food choices. When I asked Donna Lanich, a retired school counselor, her suggestions for parents, she said, “Parents, encourage your children, but don’t pressure them. Start each day with a clean slate!”
Let’s talk about masks and social distancing: two things our children have never experienced before. Fortunately, studies show that kids tend to do the better at adapting to their new or changed circumstances than adults do but I went to the “experts” who are dealing with this on a daily basis -– the counselors, school secretaries and your children’s teachers!
“In many ways, this is easier for the kids than the parents. The kids are happy to be back and everyone is doing their best.” says Anna Cass who works at the MCCC. “Know that your children are doing a great job and celebrate their successes! They may be a little irritable when they get home. Give them some flexibility. Encourage them to go outdoors, soak up some sunshine and breathe in fresh air.”
Mrs. Cass also wanted to alert parents to the rainy days ahead this Fall as a reminder to send a couple different masks in the kids’ book bags. The last thing a parent wants is their kid running in from the rain, racing to their classroom and wearing a wet mask all morning. Remind them to visit the office if they forget so that they can get a fresh clean mask from the secretary.
And parents, remember that kids pick up on our stress. If you’re stressed out, it can make your kids stressed out, and when everyone is stressed it's a recipe for disaster. As Jennifer Blair, a teacher from Buckeye said, “EGR. Extra grace is required.” Patience and grace are Ms. Blair’s words for this school year!
Take some extra time with your kids this year. Talk about their day. Make sure that they are exercising, hydrating, and eating healthy wholesome organic foods whenever possible. Encourage them to get 8 hours of sleep every night and express how proud you are of them. Be positive, be kind, and be understanding! No matter what this school year brings, you’ve got this!
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