When the COVID-19 global pandemic reared its ugly head in the spring of 2020, your kids probably switched overnight from in-person school to online classes.

While some schools were able to adopt a hybrid model of in-person and online days for the 2020-2021 school year, many students continued to learn from home every day.

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Recently, schools began announcing their plans for this fall, and in many cases, students will be returning to in-person instruction. After months of learning from home on a laptop, this transition back to the “old normal” will take some adjustment.

To help ensure that your children’s return to school goes smoothly and safely and that they are set up for success, consider the following tips.

Practice Being Apart

After spending a ton of time at home with their families, kids may understandably feel some anxiety about being separated from you and their siblings. If your kiddos tearfully tell you that they are worried about being away from home, Child Mind suggests you validate what they are saying and assure them that their feelings are totally normal.

Stay as calm as possible and remind them that plenty of other kids probably feel the same way. 

Starting now, find opportunities to do things apart; for example, maybe you can hire your old trusted sitter to stay with them while you run some errands, or they can have a playdate with some neighborhood kids at the park while another parent supervises.

By practicing being away from you now, your kids may find it easier to say “goodbye” on the first day of school.

Let Them Choose New Clothes and Shoes

New clothes and shoes have an almost magical ability to help kids get back into the right frame of mind for school. And, after a year-plus of wearing pretty much whatever they wanted while attending online school, your children are probably quite ready to shop for some new pants, shirts, hoodies and shoes.

As JD Sports notes, back-to-school shoes are not only functional and will help your kids to get right back into recess and PE classes, they are also a great way to incorporate their own personal style to their outfits.

As the budget allows, let your children choose at least one new outfit including athletic footwear, new socks and undies.

Remind Them of Safety Precautions

Since COVID-19 began, you have stressed the importance of frequent and thorough hand washing, wearing a mask and staying apart from others. Despite your best efforts, you have seen your kids forget their masks, rinse their hands under cold water for two seconds and stand too close to friends.

Spend some time reinforcing and practicing these precautions, and talk about why they are so important, Houston Methodist recommends. 

You might also want to check the school’s website to see what safety measures they will implement this fall and beyond, including frequent cleaning of surfaces and having hand sanitizer stations.

If masks will be required for all children, vaccinated or not, let your kiddos select some new ones as part of the back-to-school shopping spree, and tuck small bottles of sanitizer into their backpacks.

The Return to School Can Be Smooth and Stress-Free

Whether your kids adored or disliked online school, they probably got used to it — at least most days. Now, as they prepare to go back to school in person, it’s important for them to realize that while it may feel a bit weird at first, they will soon acclimate to the old way of doing things.

By practicing separating and doing things apart, treating them to new clothes and shoes, and having some good discussions about safety, the return to in-person school should go more smoothly.