Mental Health Supports for the Return to In-Person Learning

Mental Health Supports for the Return to In-Person Learning
Posted on 01/14/2022
Mental Health Supports for the Return to In-Person Learning

The planned return to in person learning on Monday has sparked a variety of reactions from students and families. As we prepare for the return to school next week, some are looking forward to connecting with peers, educators, and a return to the routines and structure that they are used to.  Others are expressing stress and even fear with the return to in person learning.  We are a part of your child’s circle of support and our staff are here to support you and your child in this transition. 

As parents, there are things that you can do to help support your child in managing this transition back. Recognize that everyone responds to stress differently and ensure your child knows that there is no one way to feel.  As mentioned, some may be excited to return, some may not have any reaction and others may be anxious about this return.  This may show up in differing ways. Your child may appear tired, irritable, angry, complain of headaches, etc. Their emotions may change.  Look for changes in behavior, sleep, and eating patterns.

Some ideas to support your child:

  1. Manage your worries first & model calm. Children watch what we do not what we say.
  2. Find moments to connect with your child, these don’t have to be long to be meaningful.
  3. Listen and hold space for their feelings “I hear you, it makes sense that you are worried”
  4. Be open to questions and discussion 
  5. Avoid giving too much reassurance.  If they continually ask the same question, refer back.  “You’ve said that before, it's stressful.  Can you remind me of what we said last time when you asked that question?”
  6. Focus on what you can control & model healthy coping strategies.  Be open with them about how you are managing stress right now. You are an important role model for them.
  7. Engage them in problem solving.  What do they think might help & explore what has helped in the past.  
  8. Provide choices whenever possible. “Do you want to set an alarm or do you want me to wake you up in the morning for school?” ”Do you want to walk home or shall I pick you up?”  
  9. Provide structure & start the routine early in preparation for Monday (sleep, eating, etc)
  10. Limit media exposure for both you and your child.  This can overwhelm any of us these days.
  11. Look for the positives & practice gratitude together.  Find one small thing every day that brings you joy.  Create space for laughter & play.
  12. Know that we are all doing the best we can and model compassion for self, your children and each other.

In the end, know that there is no perfect parenting at the best of times and there certainly is not through these times.  As Ottawa Public Health staff once wrote, “perfect” is cancelled until further notice.  Do the best you can and know that’s enough right now.  

If you are concerned about your child’s mental health, please contact your child’s classroom teacher to discuss possible supports or reach out to the following community services. .


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