When it comes to going back to school, it can cause a great deal of anxiety for both parents and children. Local mental health experts weigh in on the conversation regarding what the fall school year might look like, drawing on their own experiences with clients.
“The students I’ve worked with, [the pandemic] has really impacted them a lot,” says educator and social worker Dr. Alysha Glover. “They have gone throw seven months of routines and procedures in school and now it’s been taken away from them. They have been learning at home remotely while teachers are figuring out how to do things.
Meanwhile Dr. Sandy Carlson is a clinical psychologist who specializes in helping children who struggle with mental illness. She says that kids who already have anxiety disorders as it is are now even more anxious because of the pandemic and the unknowns regarding the school year.
“What I found was the initially first two months we were rough but then it seemed people settled in. The summer seemed more normal because kids are not in school,” she says. “But the last week there’s been an uptick in anxiety because of the question of, “Am I going to go back to school or not?’”
WANTING TO GO BACK TO SCHOOL AND NORMALCY
“More kids want to go back than not,” says Glover. “They just want to see their friends and get back into the monotony of life. However, they’re scared too. They definitely have a lot of questions. They’re seeing their parents have a lot of questions too and having apprehension as well.”
“We don’t have the research to back up ‘Is staying home the right move? Is going back to school the right move?’” says co-host Rebecca Malotke-Meslin.
For older kids and teenagers, they at least have the experience and knowledge of navigating online tools such as FaceTime and other apps to keep in touch with their friends from a distance.
“I think younger kids have suffered more,” says Carlson. “They have not at the playdates or go to the playground.”
ADVICE FOR PARENTS
When it comes to communicating with one’s child(ren), experts say it’s important to be honest, yet reassuring, when preparing for the upcoming year.
“Reassuring our kids that everyone’s going to be okay because it is,” says Glover. “It’s just going to look really different and this is going to be a constant change of thinking, way of approaching situation but we can always learn from it.”
“I think it’s crucial to be honest because kids are smart and if you’re lying to them, they’ll figure it out and you’ll lose all credibility,” says Carlson, adding that it’s important to admit what you don’t know and be truthful about what you do. “Be upfront and not sugarcoat it.”
ABOUT THE SHOW
Finding Common Ground is focused on important current events and how they impact our diverse population. We are many voices of one community, often with strong opinions on every side of an issue. Here, through courageous conversation in the interest of discovering collaborative solutions, we hope to find out common ground.
All guests and viewers are invited to acknowledge the four agreements to courageous conversations:
- Stay Engaged
- Speak Your Truth
- Experience Discomfort
- Expect and Accept Non-Closure