The back-to-school season is frenzied enough as is. Add a pandemic to the mix, and it can really complicate the decisions that go into sending your child back to school.

The K-12 school system offers a lot to children. First, of course, is education. Beyond that, though, kids also get the opportunity to learn socialization skills with peers and adults. They get the chance to engage in physical activity in gym class and recess. Some kids are dependent on receiving at least one, if not two, meals at school. Schools also give kids an outlet for expressing talents in sports, art, music, writing, and so much more. Plus, the schools are a safe place for children and teens to expend their energy and express emotions.

That being said, there are many benefits to homeschooling as well. Children have more flexibility in their learning, and can be supported depending on their specific needs. Not to mention the opportunity to spend more time with your child!

Whether you’ve decided to keep your child home or send them back, we know this school year is going to look different. We decided to talk to Jeff Konfara, one of our Clinical Therapists here at Eagle Village, to get some advice on how to be there for your child regardless of how you are doing school this year. Jeff offers great tips on how to provide a stable environment for nurturing their mental and emotional development in the midst of an unstable outside world.

Be Consistent

“Provide consistency,” Jeff states. “When things in our life get crazy, we naturally grasp for consistency. It could be as simple as committing to attending church every week or having a meal at the table as a family every evening.”

Having a constant routine in your week will be beneficial to your child as it will give them something to depend on, even if an unprecedented event throws other things off balance- such as school suddenly closing.

Watch for Nonverbal Signals- and Respond!

“Understanding your child’s baseline in crucial,” Jeff adds. You know your child better than anyone. If you notice a change in their behavior or emotions, understand this means something has happened that has affected them- even though they don’t actually say that.

“Adults communicate verbally, kids communicate nonverbally,” Jeff says. By watching for changes, you can notice when your child or teen is actually nonverbally communicating with you.

The next step is to gather your courage and sit down with your child to talk. Be patient as you help your child or teen work through expressing their feelings. It might not be a skill they’ve fully developed yet, but this is a great opportunity for you teach them how.

Give Grace

Finally Jeff tells us, “Have grace- for both yourself and your family.”

We think that’s good advice no matter the circumstance. Our kids at Eagle Village have come from environments that were already unstable before COVID-19, so this has been a principle we’ve affirmed since the beginning. In a world that goes crazy more times than not, grace is the foothold that allows us to be there for ourselves, our family, and our community.

If you think your child needs more help than you can offer, please call (231) 832-2234 to speak with someone about our counseling services.

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