From the Office of Child Care and Family Resources
Dear Families, As the new academic year draws near, we know that the start of the fall semester will be without precedent. The transition back to school virtually, in-person or into a child care setting will be unlike any other. Under these circumstances, we need to remember that it is critical that children feel safe, connected, and engaged through meaningful interactions, activities, and relationships. The new school year also presents a golden opportunity for educators and families to find creative tools that optimize the socioemotional development and educational outcomes of our children. With an unfamiliar classroom layout and sanitation protocols in place, younger children may struggle to understand the changes in their learning environment. Following COVID-19 guidelines, most children will be entering a different space (rooms, teachers, friends), with instruction delivered partially or wholly online — all without the benefit of the “ending” rituals of the prior year. These important rituals help smoothen the transition from one year to the next. To help understand this transition, early childhood experts, Melissa Butler and Junlei Li, provide these simple strategies for families: https://www.gse.harvard.edu/news/uk/20/07/making-smooth-transition Here is a snapshot of their recommendations to ease young children’s worries about going back to a child care center or school. Be honest, clear, and direct. Talk to children about how they got to early learning settings last year, the door they went in, who was there to greet them, etc. Talk about the rituals they remember and how things might stay the same or look different this year. Talk explicitly about certainty and uncertainty, about what is likely to happen and what is still unknown. Learning to live with uncertainty and still be able to enjoy learning, friendship, and relationships is a key growth skill. Take time for play! Amid this time of stress, find 15 minutes, minimum twice a week, to sit down with a child and just follow how they want to play a game. Children will be calmed and reassured by your attention. Focus on the simple pleasures that additional family time provides and creating fun family memories. We wish you an amazing academic year full of meaningful learning experiences and cherished memories with your children. You got this!