Back to school time has long been one of mixed emotions. This year the usual feelings of excitement, anxiety, hesitation and confusion may even more heightened with the uncertainty of our global pandemic. Children have been away from the structured school atmosphere for almost six months and whether yours will continue to learn from home or in the classroom, here are just a few tips and tricks to help them stay engaged and learning:

  1. Try setting goals and routines. Set small daily, weekly and monthly goals, this way your child will know what is expected of them and remove the element of uncertainty. Remember to check in with your children, help when needed and take the time to really listen to them. Children need consistency and setting routines will help to reduce feelings of anxiety. Try for consistent meal times and bedtimes and carve out some time in your day so that they can have your undivided attention. Include your children in the process of setting goals and routines, ask them what they think will work and what they would like included. This will provide your child with a bigger sense of control over their environment
  2. Be consistent. Once goals and routines are set, have a conversation with your children to make sure they have a clear understanding of what the goals and routines are and do not sway from them once they are set.
  3. Create a distraction-free environment and allow for break times. Give your child their own workspace by creating a quiet, clutter-free space that they can call their own and allow them to get up for movement breaks.
  4. Try teaching self-regulation, monitoring and mindfulness. Remember, as parents, we may also be struggling to self-regulate, but let’s remind ourselves that our children need us to regulate our emotions before we are able to help them with theirs. Take time to ask your child what they are feeling, what are their emotions. Teach them to identify their feelings and emotions and get them thinking about how they can deal with them. Keep them in the present. We can’t control past actions and we can’t predict the future, but what we can do is be in the here and now.
  5. Connect their school work with real life and make it FUN! For a child, nothing may be more boring than learning something that they feel is not relevant. Connect their learning and homework from school to real-life situations. Ask them questions on how the topic could be related to their own life, this may help cement their understanding and keep them just a little bit more engaged. And lastly, MAKE IT FUN! Play games, bake, create science experiments, or even create a trivia game to help them stay focused on learning in a fun way.

Remember, we are not the only ones that are feeling the uncertainly and anxiety of today’s climate. Our children are experiencing something we never had to as children and having patience and understanding can go a long way. Focusing on the positive and the small milestones in their learning will help your child(ren) stay motivated and engaged. And lastly, practice kindness.

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Written by: Jill Deschamps, Intake Administrator, YW Calgary