Written by: Suwenda Louis, Inclusion Specialist, Early Learning Coalition of Broward County
With nearly a year of being outside of the classroom and/or having to transition to e-learning, returning to school this fall is a topic that is on the minds of many families across the US. The recent COVID-19 Crisis has turned the globe on its side and everything around us has changed and rather than panic we have learned to adapt and evolve like our early learners do every day. While we are all looking forward to going back to our early learning environments, here are some helpful tips to help you and your children get back to a new normal.
What was once a routine ritual of returning to school in the fall is now fraught with uncertainty and challenges for families. COVID-19 has brought countless changes to our day-to-day routines. This leads me to the first tip, STRUCTURE. Many children have been on a flexible perhaps unpredictable schedule throughout the pandemic. Now is a good time to start to return to a school/work schedule.
It doesn’t have to be a rigid schedule, it’s your schedule. Leave space to tweak as needed, but this schedule will give you consistency to ease the transition back to school. Many children have been on a different sleep schedule throughout the pandemic; possibly getting up later in the morning or going to bed later at night. To help ease children back into a school sleep schedule, you can start to slowly adjust their bedtime.
The second tip is to be PATIENT and FORGIVING. Be patient with yourself, be patient with your child, and be patient with school staff. We are all in this transition together. While each school’s plan is different, they all may have new procedures in place such as wearing a mask, washing hands more frequently, changes in sick policies, and temperature checks. For young children and families, this may be unsettling. Before school starts, you may want to practice by taking out the thermometer and explain what it does and how it helps. This may rid of the possible anxiety of getting their temperature taken at school. You can also practice wearing a face mask with your child at home for longer durations in preparation for the school environment. Teach children that their health and safety are a top priority.
Lastly, be SUPPORTIVE and FLEXIBLE. For over a year we have heard and experienced many different realities about COVID-19, and children have too. With school starting, some children may have questions or concerns. Having open, age-appropriate conversations with your children will help them know they are not alone, that we do not have all the answers, and that flexibility is very important.
Families are resilient, especially in the face of socioeconomic changes. Just remember to smile and embrace it. We are all learning and adjusting together. Create STRUCTURE, be PATIENT and FORGIVING to yourself, your children, and school officials, and be SUPPORTIVE and FLEXIBLE. Most importantly…you can do this!
The Early Learning Coalition (ELC) of Broward offers School Readiness, a financial assistance program that helps low-income eligible families obtain affordable, highquality child care in Broward County and Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten VPK which is free for all Florida’s Four-Year-Olds. The ELC of Broward also provides resources and training for child care and family home care educators in supporting their continuous quality improvement and professional development. For more information, please visit www.elcbroward.org. Suwenda Louis is a BCBA who earned a Master’s of Science in Developmental Disabilities with a concentration in Applied Behavioral Analysis from Nova Southeastern University and a Bachelors of Arts in Psychology from the University of South Florida.
Suwenda currently works as an Inclusion Specialist with the Early Learning Coalition of Broward county. With over 7 years of experience in Early Education, Suwenda’s professional background includes an emphasis on Early Intervention, Behavior Modification, Classroom Management, and Verbal Behavior. Her ultimate goal is to make a difference in each child’s life by providing high-quality behavioral intervention services and implementing effective classroom teaching strategies.