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Start preparing children for school now. Here’s how.

If you’re worried about the start of the school year, you’re in good company.

School administrators, teachers, parents and students are all anxious about what the new school year will bring, what will need to happen to keep everyone safe, and how to create a stable learning environment in the midst of so much uncertainty.

While we may be weeks away from the traditional start, now is a good time to begin preparing your children to go back to school, according to Matthew Boyd, mobile crisis intervention program manager at Child & Family Services.

Boyd says talking to your child about how school will be different this year is a good way to prepare them in advance for classroom changes.

Don’t wait until the first day of school is upon us.

“School is likely going to look very different this year and having conversations proactively can be beneficial for setting expectations and reducing anxiety,” Boyd said via email.

Preparing children now will help them cope better.

Although it’s tough to know exactly what those changes will be, talk to children now about how their classrooms might function differently because of the pandemic and even the potential of a return to remote learning from home.

Boyd recommends addressing topics like the possibility of wearing a mask, the enforcement of social distancing rules in group situations like contact sports, physical education classes or cafeteria seating, and changes to the sharing of supplies like pens, pencils, and art materials.

In these conversations, parents should remain hopeful, he said, and let children know that things will eventually get back to normal.

Boyd also recommends helping your child adjust to school routines by starting early.

“Proper sleep and nutrition are also very important,” he said. “Parents should start setting bedtime routines and schedules now to prepare children for returning to school routines.”

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