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Going back to school after a long break can be difficult enough for children and families, even in the best of times. And as the world feels the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, although the situation is different from place to place, there are a lot of common questions and uncertainties arising in both parents and children. Of course, returning to school safely is at the top of everyone’s list, but parents must also be aware of the potential for anxiety or stress in their children. According to the Centers For Disease Control:

After a disaster, children may develop symptoms of anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Mental health plays an important role in physical health, school performance, behavior, and long-term quality of life.

The good news is there are steps we can take to help our kids get back to school safely and with confidence, whether they are attending school in-person, online, or a hybrid of the two. We’ve put together a list of tips to help you and your family have a happy and successful back-to-school time!

1. As parents, we never want to see our kids scared or anxious. But any emergency or disaster can affect them in ways it might not affect adults. It is very important to be able to talk to your kids truthfully, on their level, in a way they can understand. In a situation where they may have heard worrying rumors and misinformation, you are the one who can address it and correct it. You might want to limit their exposure to media coverage about the event as well. Talk to teachers and other adults who spend time with your child, so you can share information about how your child is coping.

According to the CDC, a child’s emotional response to a disaster can vary, but you should contact their healthcare provider if they are still upset or struggling several weeks after the transition.

2. Be safe, but don’t panic. You can set an example for your child by managing your stress and resuming your normal routine. In fact, you may have already done so during lockdown, and continuing to do so and adding the daily structure of a school schedule (even if it is online) will help reduce stress.

Talk to your child's school or childcare facility so that you can be aware of and support the safety protocols they have implemented. You may have suggestions for them, too. Make sure your child understands basic in-school hygiene such as handwashing, using hand-sanitizer, and wearing a mask, if it is mandated.

3. There is obviously a huge debate over when and how it is best to return to school, with global variations in execution. No matter where you or your regional authorities land on the issue, it’s important to stay focused on your child and their need for socialization.

Even under the best of circumstances, the pandemic has brought new levels of isolation and this can be very hard on children. UK psychotherapist Noel McDermott says, “Children develop best in complex social groups… One of the first things psychologists do in places there has been a war is to set up schools. They are protective against trauma.” Whether your child will be attending in-person right away, or online for a while, it’s important to encourage them to interact with their peers, even if it’s still only via Zoom or Facetime.

4. No matter how this school year unfolds, whether attending in-person or online, as parents, we have the ability to set the stage for our kids’ success this year. We believe that one of the best ways to do that is through the practice of martial arts!

Martial arts teaches respect, discipline, and fosters self-esteem. It instills greater levels of confidence, helps kids stand up to bullies, and even defend themselves against would-be attackers or kidnappers. It can help increase academic performance, homework completion, and classroom discipline. And the physical benefits are obvious; kids and teens find themselves more physically fit in every regard. Regular practice, either in-person or online, whichever you are more comfortable with, gives kids a sense of stability and structure.

At our martial arts school, not only are we following all of the recommended safety guidelines, but we teach the same values you teach at home. Your child can train with us in our dojo, or get the same benefits via our online classes, depending on your comfort level.

We’re here to help get them through this difficult time, and make the back-to-school transition as smooth as possible. That’s why, for a limited time, we’re offering members of our community a free class (and an amazing trial offer) to evaluate our program with no strings attached! Now is the time to try martial arts: Click the link below and get started today!

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