• Wake County Public School System elementary students are currently scheduled to return to school on a rotating basis beginning Oct. 26, with middle school students to follow Nov. 9.

    What can parents do to ensure their children are well prepared to return to school and maintain their good physical and emotional health?

    WCPSS Director of Counseling Crystal Reardon shares tips around making sure your child is ready for the first day back.

    Of course, first and foremost, the three W’s:

    • Wearing a face covering;
    • Waiting at least six feet apart;
    • Washing hands.

    Students will be required to wear face coverings at all times while in school. It is suggested that parents have students get used to wearing face coverings throughout the day.

    Around the house. While engaging in remote learning. While playing, even outside. This will help ensure the student has a well-fitted face covering and is comfortable wearing it for long periods of time.

    Re-establishing Routines

    As in pre-pandemic times, a solid routine is critical for student success.

    • Set an appropriate time for bed. This will help the student be more engaged in learning the following day.
    • Set an appropriate wake-up time. Give your child enough time to be fully awake, have a healthy breakfast and have ample time to get dressed, brush their teeth and make it to the bus stop (or school if traveling by car) on time.
    • Have your child’s backpack and other items ready to go. Make sure you equip your child with the supplies your school requires, along with lunch/snack if they take one, the evening before.
    • Have your child’s clothes laid out the night before, as well. “No jammies in school!”

    Preparing Your Child Emotionally

    The most important thing for your child to know before returning to school is that it will look and feel different, and that’s OK. 

    Remind your child that not all students in their class will be there the first day. They will not be able to hug or high-five their friends or teacher. (Practice the “long-distance” high five.)

    Students will not be able to sit closely with their students in class or at lunch, nor will they be able to have contact on the playground.

    It’s all going to be different, but much will be the same. Including great teachers who are preparing lessons and activities that will keep students engaged in their learning. And there will be activities that will build students’ social skills in a healthy manner.

    Alleviating Anxiety

    Again, remind your child that school will be different, but safe. They will be able to learn and have fun. They will be able to engage with others.

    Calming strategies include:

    • Taking several deep breaths, which fosters calmness and slows the heart rate.
    • Counting to 10, or another favorite number. This redirects brain activity away from worrying.
    • Thinking of a favorite place, like the beach or grandma’s house. That will refocus their attention and evoke positive thoughts.

    Hint: These strategies can work for parents, too!

    Practice Makes Perfect

    It’s a good idea to practice these activities with your child in the days and weeks leading up to the first day of school. 

    We want all of our students to feel fully prepared for focusing on learning and feeling safe while in our school buildings.