Like many New Jersey parents, Peggy and Sam are juggling the schooling of their two children with work. The hybrid approach of combining remote learning with in-person class time has made life challenging, both practically and emotionally, for parents and kids.

Below are some strategies to help parents adjust to the current school model, manage uncertainty and learn how to get formal and informal support.

Prepare yourself and your children for in-person schooling

  • Understand the school and classroom environment to ease everyone’s concerns. Review safety protocols and operating plans shared by school districts. Take time to learn about the safety measures in place for arrival and dismissal, the classroom, lunch and recess, sports, etc.
  • Practice safety habits at home that can be done at school. Teaching children to wash their hands, wear their masks and socially distance makes it easier for them to follow those guidelines when they are not in your presence. This helps keep your child, their peers and school employees safe.
  • Know your children’s concerns and have age-appropriate conversations with them about being in school. Talk about COVID-19 and reassure them that the changes in the school day are to help keep everyone safe. Also, remind your child about the things he or she looks forward to, whether it’s seeing friends or making new friends, meeting teachers or having a routine outside of the house.

Managing a remote learning environment

  • Check in with teachers for guidance, clarification and feedback. Reach out to your child’s teachers for tips and direction on supporting the remote learning experience. Teachers can provide guidance on how to help your child work through difficult subjects and help you understand your child’s learning needs.
  • Create structure that allows for flexibility. With a mix of both school and work schedules, it’s important to establish a routine during the day. Use structured tools like a visible calendar to outline schedules. But also prepare to improvise if things don’t go as planned, like changing the time of a scheduled break.
  • Work toward independence. Encourage older children to work independently on their school work or routine. This can help with time management during the day when it comes to your work or tending to younger children.

Address your own needs as a parent

Feeling overwhelmed? It’s important to address your needs and find balance:

  • Learn techniques to manage uncertainty. We can't change the circumstances of the pandemic, but we can challenge our fearful thoughts. Learn to identify inaccurate and distracting thoughts by understanding common thinking errors.
  • Keep stress-relieving tools handy. Practice stress-relieving techniques, like taking a mindfulness break.
  • Plan for support. Identify people you can reach out to for additional support — your spouse, a family member or a friend. You can also connect with other parents, even virtually, who might be making similar adjustments this school year.
  • Find reliable sources of information for additional support. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers a Back to School Planning Guide that includes a comprehensive checklist of things to consider when planning your child’s schooling experience this year.

This article has been condensed from a publication of AbleTo Behavioral Health Services, PC.

AbleTo, Inc. and AbleTo, Inc.’s subsidiary, AbleTo Behavioral Health Services PC, are independently contracted by Horizon BCBSNJ to provide remote behavioral health support services. AbleTo, Inc. and AbleTo Behavioral Health Services PC are independent from and not affiliated with Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey.