WORTHINGTON Starting a new school year can be stressful for children and their families. This year is especially unique because of the ongoing global pandemic. We started out the school year in the hybrid learning model and a very short time later moved into distance learning. This is just one example of how quickly things can change. Fear and uncertainty can make it difficult to keep a sense of calm. It’s important to help children feel safe, keep healthy routines, manage their behavior and build resilience.

Here are some tips to help parents and caregivers keep kids focused, balanced and interested while learning from a distance:

1. Establish routines and expectations. It's important to develop good habits from the start. Try to keep to a schedule, establish morning and bedtime routines.

Kids need structure in their day to feel secure and know what’s happening next. Also, manage and monitor your child’s non-academic screen time.

2. Choose a good place to learn. Having a regular learning space for school work will be very helpful. Make sure this space is quiet, free from distractions and has a good internet connection.

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3. Stay in touch. Stay in contact with your child’s teacher. If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out and ask for help.

4. Provide encouragement. Offer support and encouragement and have expectations that your child will complete his/her school work. It’s normal to feel frustrated at times. Making mistakes is a part of learning.

5. Encourage physical activity and exercise. Kids have a short attention span, make sure your child has movement breaks in between academic activities.

Children can go for a walk, ride their bike or it can even be as simple as standing and stretching before the beginning of the next assignment. An example your child is familiar with would be www.gonoodle.com for "brain breaks."

This is a stressful time for everyone. Give your child (and yourself) a break, have grace and be flexible with the ongoing changes as they occur. Equip your child with positive coping skills if they are feeling overwhelmed or have big emotions. Some examples might include spending time outdoors, listening to music, drawing, journaling, coloring, playing a favorite game, yoga, exercise or anything positive that brings your child happiness until the stressful feeling passes.

The Prairie Elementary Student Services team is here to help. There are so many things we do to be proactive throughout the year to continuously promote social skills and coping with strong feelings. If you feel your child is struggling during this stressful time please reach out to the school (727-1250) and let us know. We’re in this together.