Return to School: Tips and Guidelines from a Pediatrician

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Return to School: Tips and Guidelines from a Pediatrician

September 07, 2021
posted by Justin Triemstra

Across the country, families are finishing their last summer activities while children and adolescents are preparing to go back to school. For many, this time of year comes with mixed emotions: eagerness and excitement to return to school, see friends, and participate in extracurricular activities, yet also some anxiety and nervousness due to a change in routine from summer. Couple those emotions with yet another surge of COVID-19, and children and parents alike are looking for guidance on how to transition into the upcoming school year. In this blog, we will tackle both of those topics while also offering suggestions for a successful transition back to school.

 

     small radio flyer red wagon filled with childrens books

 

Anxiety

Children of all ages are preparing to undergo a significant disruption in their daily routine. Whether they are a first-time preschooler or an experienced high school student returning to school from a summer job, the beginning of the school year can cause stress and anxiety. Although signs and symptoms of anxiety can be vague, it may present as frequent tantrums or crying in younger children or trouble sleeping, headaches, or depressive symptoms in adolescents. Parents can utilize these tips to ease the transition back to school:

  • Begin the daily school routine a week before the first day of school for practice
  • Schedule some “end of the summer” events such as a trip to a favorite park, the local zoo or farm, or a celebration centered around “back to school shopping”
  • Once school begins, allow additional time for all students to decompress when they return home by having playtime, quiet time, or extended outside play

 

COVID-19

Although all of us hoped this school year would begin without an ongoing pandemic, the COVID-19 delta variant has created another surge that has spread across the country. Therefore, all parents should be up-to-date and follow the most recent Center of Disease Control & Prevention Guidance for Prevention of COVID-19 in K-12 Schools toolkit and be prepared to keep children home if they are not feeling well. Scheduling an annual physical to discuss these concerns and others with your pediatrician or family physician is an excellent way to ensure your child is up to date on all vaccines while also allowing time for your child to ask any questions to a trusted health care provider.

 

Returning to school is an exciting and anxious time for parents and children alike. Therefore, pediatricians recommend having open, honest discussions about the importance of school, your child’s emotions, and proper COVID-19 prevention strategies to assist in a successful beginning to the school year.

 

Justin Triemstra, MD

Spectrum Health, Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital

The views in this article are my own and are for informational and educational purposes only and not medical advice.