The beginning of a new school year always means change, but this back-to-school season will look a bit different. Whether students are taught virtually or in a classroom environment, it will create challenges for teachers, families and kids alike. Kleenex® brand child wellness expert and board-certified attending family physician, Deborah Gilboa, M.D., weighs in with her top tips for families to help prepare for the upcoming school year.
Identify the right resources
One thing in high demand for teachers this year is support from communities. It’s important to ensure teachers have the resources they need to lead student learning for both online and in-person settings. Everything from basic supplies to materials that promote learning and overall well-being can help kids manage stress, but teachers often need help acquiring those supplies. That’s why Kleenex® brand is donating up to $1.2 million in 2020 to fund requests from teachers on the education nonprofit crowdfunding site DonorsChoose.
“When students have the resources they need to learn and stay well, achievement can thrive,” said Charles Best, founder of DonorsChoose. “This upcoming school year holds many unknowns for educators, and we’re grateful for this support from Kleenex® brand, which has helped equip over 2,500 teachers and 176,500 students with materials they need to continue learning.”
Prepare for a new routine
A big part of going back to school is getting into a new routine as a family and being flexible knowing things will continue to change. Gilboa recommends introducing a similar school schedule weeks before school starts, so parents are able to help children adjust and make changes as needed.
“Having kids practice what is expected of them with these new guidelines will help them feel more prepared when it’s time for school to start,” says Gilboa. “Whether it’s packing their backpack or starting the morning with structured activities such as reading or coloring, having this routine will help kids transition better into the school year.”
Don’t underestimate a child’s stress
Research shows that most elementary school children report some symptoms of nerves or anxiety around returning to school each year. In these unprecedented times, those numbers are expected to rise dramatically. According to Gilboa, the biggest signs of stress to look out for in kids include behavior, sleep and appetite changes, difficulty with normal communication, or not enjoying things they normally do.
“Kids will pick up on their parents’ stress leading up to the school year, so it’s important to remember to manage your stress and reactions appropriately,” said Gilboa. “To help understand your kids’ true feelings, ask questions to encourage them to share good and bad experiences. This way, when your child is going through something stressful, they have the practice and expectation that they can talk about it with their parents.”
Parents can start by encouraging kids to share a couple of good things that happened in the day, and also a challenge. Questions could include “what moment made you smile today” or “tell me about a moment you wish you could erase.”
The upcoming school year will feel overwhelming but taking extra time to understand and communicate with kids and their teachers will help everyone feel more in control and prepared for the school year. To join Kleenex® brand in funding the resources needed for students and teachers this year, please visit DonorsChoose.org/Kleenex.