#childsafety | Child psychologist offers advice to parents and kids on preparing for new school year

Jerstad said parents should also seek help and resources so they don’t feel alone and have someone to go to.

“Get support. Seek out other parents who are in similar situations, get ideas from each other get support from each other and seek out teachers and school personnel to really help figure out how to navigate the situation,” said Jerstad.

Parents can help kids prepare for safety precautions if they go back to school in person by practicing them now. Jerstad said parents can have kids practice wearing a face mask correctly and getting used to wearing them. Also show them what standing six feet apart from a friend looks like and good hand washing. This way it becomes second nature to kids by the time they start the school year.

“I think as parents and kids are going through the summer, it’s a great opportunity when they’re going on outings to practice the safety rules that they’re going to need to follow at school. Have everybody put on their masks and wash their hands before they leave the house and when they come back and also practice being mindful of keeping a social distance from people,” said Jerstad.

For kids going back to distance learning, parents should look back on how distance learning went in the spring for their child and go over what did and didn’t work so that the same mistakes aren’t made. Jerstad said she know’s distance learning was a challenge for some kids so it is important to help them and give them the tools they need to succeed.

“It’s first of all going to be important for parents to check in how is my child doing, how is their mental health, are they feeling isolated, or are they finding ways to get connected to other kids. Maybe they can kind of have groups of kids that they can make sure they’re connected together. In terms of the school officials, those are our counselors and our support people, have them checking in on kids that they know who have had struggles,” said Jerstad.

Jerstad said for parents, putting a schedule together makes a big difference because parents and kids can have something to rely on and have something to structure their day. Jerstad said it’s also important to implement breaks and spending time outside. Also try to schedule some time for kids to catch up with friends too.

Lastly, Jerstad said it’s also important to be flexible to change, since some schools might change their plans as the school year progresses.

“I think kids could also take this opportunity to recognize what amazing work they did by adapting so quickly to something that they weren’t planning or prepared for. That’s a nice way to kind of go into a year if they’re going to do more distance learning to think of how they worked hard to try to overcome that challenge and found some strengths in doing that and to really look at what they did well and how that works for them going into the next school year,” said Jerstad.

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