August is Back to School Month: Is Your Family Ready?

Posted by Century Support Services on Aug 15, 2020

This has been one of the strangest summers on record for many people. And while uncertainty abounds at the moment, at least one thing is for sure: A return to school is coming — even though it may look very different this year. If you’re wondering how to prepare for back-to-school season when you don’t even know what school will look like yet, you’re far from alone. In honor of August’s Back to School Month, here’s a closer look at what to expect this fall, along with tips for helping your family cope with the many challenges of this unprecedented time.

Virtual, Face-to-Face or a Hybrid?

With schools all over the country starting to roll out their recovery and reopening plans for fall, one of the most startling things we’re seeing is how different they are. Proposed strategies include everything from staggered schedules and longer school days to temperature checks, routine sanitizing and social distancing in classrooms and buses. Meanwhile, while most experts agree that masks should be worn, many parents and teachers alike are questioning whether it’s possible — especially in early childhood education settings.

Meanwhile, whenever and whatever your school district decides, plans are subject to change due to the fluid nature of the situation. “We’ll have to see on a step-by-step basis as we get into the period of time with the fall about reopening the schools, exactly where we’ll be in the dynamics of the outbreak,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director for the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told Education Dive.

The takeaway? With so much in the air, planning is hard. And yet the more proactive we are about managing expectations, the better we’ll be able to face what’s ahead.

Supporting Your Family’s Health and Wellness

There’s no denying that all of this ambiguity is creating stress for many families, especially in cases where parents must return to work with young children who can’t be home alone. Additionally, many families are struggling financially and lack the resources necessary to support virtual learning.

The priority through these challenges? Safeguarding the health and wellness of kids, most of whom have experienced major disruptions to their daily lives because of the pandemic. Helping them understand that a “new normal” is coming is important, as is focusing on the positives of the situation. Whether they’re scared to go back to school, worried about wearing a mask, or feeling isolated from friends after not seeing them for months, children are resilient, but will also benefit tremendously from reassurance from the adults in their lives.

For the good of everyone, this means attending to your own feelings, too. “As children often take their emotional cues from the key adults in their lives – including parents and teachers – it is important that adults manage their own emotions well and remain calm, listen to children’s concerns, speak kindly and reassure them,” cautions UNICEF.

Persevering toward your Financial Goals

As a visitor to this website, it’s clear that the financial health of your family is also important to you. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic may have been a setback in this respect. Between the inability to work, childcare issues, and other unexpected obstacles, it may feel especially hard to stay on track toward your financial goals. And yet committing to doing so is more important than ever.

Some ways to keep your family’s costs low during COVID-19 including reevaluating your household budget, meal prep, reducing energy usage, growing your own food, buying in bulk, taking advantage of digital coupons, and looking into reducing your home and car insurance premiums. While these savings may seem small, they add up. Also, be sure to take advantage of resources for families in your area, such as free or reduced lunch programs and electronic device loan programs.

Another bright spot? Communities, schools and educators are working diligently to ensure that kids and families have what they need to succeed. “It hasn’t been easy, and this health crisis presents us with a whole new set of challenges. But we’re going to continue to fight through it to make sure that our kids have the best possible education,” teacher Michelle Polo-Thorpe told USA Today.

One thing COVID-19 has taught all of us is that we can’t know what tomorrow will bring. By accepting that things can and will change and by keeping your priorities at the forefront — including your family’s physical, mental, emotional and financial wellness — you can position your family not only to survive these troubling times, but to emerge stronger on the other side.