Although the country is starting to re-open, the after-effects of the Coronavirus pandemic are just as impactful as ever. As schools open back up, it is vital to think about a few preparations to welcome these parents and their children back to a safe and comfortable environment.
Children have been home with their parents for months, and their regular routines have been interrupted without the proper time for transitions. It is essential to understand how COVID-19 has affected the daily lives of children and expect that it will take time to transition them back to the routine of school. Here are some things you can expect as they return to school and what you can do about it:
- Expect behavioral changes. Leaving their parents and returning to their regular routines is likely to cause feelings of separation, anxiety, stress, and confusion. Because of these feelings, children are more likely to act out. Be patient with them and offer some grounding exercises where necessary.
- Understand what they do not understand. Children cannot possibly comprehend social distancing or anything that has to do with this virus. They have an attachment style and emotional needs that will likely not be fulfilled with the new social distancing orders. Although these orders are to keep children and their families safe, we must be aware that this will likely cause stress as it goes directly against what children are used to.
- Train staff and prepare for the future. Make sure that your staff is trained on your new policies and procedures for cleaning and safe practices with the children. Additionally, this is an excellent time to prepare for the future. None of us expected this pandemic to happen, and it only shows that it is best to have policies and procedures in place if anything like this happened again in the future.
Prepare the Parents.
Remember that this is not just a transition for the children, but a transition for their parents. Their parents have been used to having them at home, and letting their children back into the care of someone else can be intimidating. They likely have concerns and questions about what they can expect from you, so it is important to consider these few recommendations:
- Hear the parent’s concerns. This is not a typical situation. Parents are likely to have concerns about the daily activities of their children. Listen to them, offer advice where needed, and do your best to make them feel comfortable.
- Educate the parents. Communication is an essential factor in this transition. Consider having a virtual meeting with the parents to discuss the procedures you will be following to keep their children safe and what they can expect as their children transition back into school. Educate them about the reasons behind your policies and procedures, so they understand why these guidelines are essential.
- Give them tips on preparing their children. This goes along with educating the parents. You could address this in a virtual meeting or send them an email full of tips and exercises that they can use as guidance to prepare their children for these changes.
Utilize Your Resources
There are endless resources available that teachers and childcare providers can use to make this experience more seamless. Here are some of the many available to you:
- Early Childhood Education blog: Guide to Re-opening a Childcare Center.
- Ohio Department of Health: Guidelines for Education and Childcare. (to find your state’s department of health for their guidelines for re-opening education and childcare, see here.)
- Ohio AEYC: Childcare Reopening Resources.
- NAEYC: Reopening Childcare Tips and Resources.
- Power to the Profession: Facebook Page of Resources.
- CDC: Guidance for Childcare Centers.
These times can be stressful for the parents, children, teachers, and childcare providers. It is important to remember that we are all facing similar issues and to be patient with each other during this stressful and speedy transition. Are you looking for more tips, tricks, and ideas? Keep an eye on our blog, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for more childcare and educational resources.