A boy wears a red Save the Children hat and a cloth face mask while standing outside.

This year, Save the Children’s SummerBoost camp was held virtually, but in past years kids like 9-year old Ayden attended in person. Photo credit: Victoria Zegler / Save the Children.

5 Tips for Talking to Kids About Schools Reopening

With new guidance on school reopenings expected from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) emerging, many families are still struggling to adapt to the unique challenges of distance learning. As the CDC has noted, "no other setting has more influence on a child’s health and wellbeing than their school." 

Here, Save the Children’s experts, in partnership with The MHPSS Collaborative, offer tips for how to support the mental and emotional wellbeing of children as they navigate an unprecedented school year.

  1. Take a step back and reflect.
    Explain that it’s important for us to stay at home to protect our older family members, neighbors, friends and community – this is why some schools are closed for now – to keep us all safe at home.

  2. Set expectations.
    Tell children that information about schools reopening can change often. Plans can vary across different communities, so it's important for children to understand that each situation is unique. 

  3. Reassure your child of what's in their control.
    Remind your child that they are still a school student, even if the school is closed. 

    Reassure your child that going to school is very important and many people are working hard so that the schools can reopen as soon as possible. Explain that until schools reopen, there are lots of things to do together so they continue learning.

  4. Validate their feelings.
    It's important to find ways to manage your child’s range of emotions, as well as your own. If children are feeling very upset, you can say: “What you are feeling is very hard right now, but it is very common to react this way when you are afraid/angry/sad. Many kids are experiencing the same feelings as you.”

    For younger children, continue to engage in playful activities. For older children, try and talk to them about ways to manage their distress.

  5. Support children to continue learning.
    This will help them feel positive about the future and ready to return to school as soon as they reopen.

    If you do not have access to learning materials, you can still help children learn:
    • Talk to your children about your daily tasks.
    • Share positive memories from your own childhood.
    • Count alound together, invent games or songs, or discuss a big idea or tradition.
    • encourage your child to practice skills and knowledge that they already have.
    • While academic learnining is important, remaining safe and well is the most important priority for everyone. Learning how to cope with this crisis is also important learning.
    • Ecourage children living together to learn together. Older siblings can help explain difficult subjects to younger children. 

You're not alone. As a national leader in early childhood education, Save the Children will continue to support and supplement learning – whether it takes place in-person, virtually or in a hybrid model, in the nation’s most rural communities. Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have been publishing free learning resources and materials to help parents and caregivers, including weekly activities and tips on how to help children cope with school closures.

With your help, we are also working to make sure kids can learn and get the nutrition they need during this crisis. In the months ahead, Save the Children will continue to ensure children receive nutritious meals whether in a school building or at home.

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