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Columbia Inspired

Safely Back to School

In Howard County school is officially back in session! Whether your child is in kindergarten, middle school, or the start of high school, back-to-school season can bring a range of feelings – from worry to excitement – for the entire family. This year may be more emotional as many families spent the better part of the past two school years at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  “It’s important to remember that even in the best of times, it’s normal for children and teens to express feelings of sadness, isolation or stress,” said Tyreca Elliott, from KinderCare Learning Centers’ inclusion services team. “Learning how to address those feelings helps us build self-confidence, resilience and independence. What’s important is the way adults respond to students stress. Offering comfort, reassurance and assisting with problem solving will help them learn and grow from stress in a positive way.”  As an added bonus, Elliott said many of the most effective ways to help students learn to navigate their feelings work just as well with adults. 


Consider these three tips to help your student (and yourself) manage emotions during the transition back to school.

  • Plan ahead: The fear of the unknown can be stressful. Students who aren’t able to clearly articulate their feelings likely won’t be able to make the connection between new, uncertain situations – like going to school and being around new people – and their feelings. They may become overwhelmed by emotions. Talk with them about how they feel about going back to school ahead of the first day of class. Ask questions and work together to help solve potential issues. That could mean finding a way to meet your students teachers ahead of time, whether virtually or in-person, or (depending on their age) practicing introducing themselves to classmates.


  • Build a consistent routine: Routines give us all a sense of security and structure, which in turn make it easier to cope with big emotions like stress and anxiety. Try to stay consistent, and if you need to make adjustments, talk them through with your student. Make sure your student has the opportunity to ask questions and suggest something different that they may feel would work better for them. Give them a safe space to talk with you about what they need and be willing to compromise.


  • Create special family moments: As important as routine is, it’s just as important to prioritize quality time together. That could mean a vacation or something as simple as Saturday bike rides or Sunday morning pancakes. Plan a family outing or special time together to celebrate completing the first week of school. Family rituals and celebrations can give everyone something to look forward to. Quality time together also helps families build resiliency.  Sharing how everyone's day may help someone who may have had a terrible day feel better just by being with each other. 

For more tips to navigate back-to-school season, visit   

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