How to Help Your Kids Adapt to the New Normal at School, According to a Pediatric Psychologist

Of course, parents of children who will be learning virtually will also have to create a daily school schedule.

Think of it as an individualized education plan: you’ll take into consideration exactly what your child needs to succeed, whether that means extra time to study math or focused reading time with a caregiver. Don’t forget to build in free time, either. Since a typical school day includes breaks for things like recess and lunch, a virtual school day should look similar.

“Just like real school, we shouldn’t demand that a child should be sitting down at the table for four hours. That’s unrealistic,” Dr. Bentley said. Plus, setting a schedule for kids can be a great way to set expectations about when you’re available (or not) to help with schoolwork – an added benefit for parents who are also trying to work from home.

For children attending classes remotely, Dr. Bentley recommended setting a clear schedule right away. Regulating the time that children wake up, have meals, work on homework, take breaks, and so on helps them settle into a regular routine and reduces feelings of anxiety.

“If they don’t know what to expect, that increases stress,” Dr. Bentley explained. “Setting a schedule really helps us automate the day and is really essential for stress reduction.”

Parents will also want to pay close attention to their children’s eating habits and physical activity. Without set class periods to mark the time, it’s easy for kids to fall into a grazing pattern instead of eating regular meals, Dr. Bentley said. Working exercise into the day is another simple way to reduce stress. Try taking socially distanced walks, playing in the backyard, or biking around the neighborhood to keep kids active throughout the day.

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