Our Mental Health team has developed a number of resources to share with families and support student wellness.
Back to School During COVID-19
Our Back to School Checklist for families focused on returning to school during COVID-19 in September 2020.
Click on the picture to for a printable version.
Act as a sounding board. Have an open conversation about what it is that's worrying your children and letting them know that it's natural to feel anxious. Try to listen without immediately offering opinions or advice.
Wash those hands. Practise proper handwashing. Sing along with their favourite song or do a dance together to make learning fun. Make sure to teach them about how even though germs are invisible, they could still be there. When children understand why they need to wash their hands, they're likely to continue doing so.
Practice makes perfect. Masks are required for students in Grade 4 and up in common areas and places where social distancing isn't possible. Show them how to put on a mask and help them become familiar with the idea of wearing one. Children may feel anxious if they find it difficult to wear a mask, especially while active. You can encourage them by telling them that lots of people are working hard to keep them safe and healthy, and emphasize that it's important that everybody follows the guidelines to take care of each other.
Show your support. Show your children that you care and are interested in what they are learning at school, and how the new routines and regulations feel. Encourage them and support them with specific praise rather than general compliments. This will show your children that you appreciate the effort they make at school, and that their work is valued.
Be vigilant. Watch for signs of stress and anxiety in your children. The stress of returning to school may impact your child's mental health, and it's important to know that it's normal and okay to feel overwhelmed. When in doubt, empathy and support are the way to go.
Share your own feelings. Being able to share your own feelings, expectations, and worries about returning to school and what you are doing to help you cope may create an open environment to help your child share their own thoughts and concerns.
Work with your school. Don't be afraid to ask for help. Let the school know if you're worried about anything in particular, or if your child could benefit from extra help in making the transition back from home to school.
A glass half full. Remind children about the good things that await them at school - they can see their friends and teachers (if they are physically returning to the classroom), learn new things, and spend time outside of the house for the first time in a long while. Is there anything they'll like about the new guidelines? A lot of things will be like normal, so talk about those things too!
Back to School Mental Health Checklist
Preparing your children to go back to school can be stressful, not only because of all the tasks that need to be completed, but also because of all the changes that are involved - new teachers, sometimes a new school, and new routines. Here are some things families can do to reduce the stress and anxiety associated with going back to school.
Get back into a routine. About 1-2 weeks before school starts, gradually (15 minutes each day) move your child's bedtime and wake up time back to what they will be during the school year.
Check for changes. Review what's different from last year. Is your child going to a new school? Does your child have a new bus stop? Be proactive. Walk to the new bus stop, play on the school playground, come for a visit when schools open back up, or call t o set up a time to meet with members of your school team.
Visit professionals. Doctors, dentists, optometrists. Make sure your physicals, immunizations and eye appointments are up to date!
Organize yourself. Get a calendar and then print and post school and extracurricular activities so you don't miss any important dates. All of our schools have online calendars on their websites with information about upcoming school activities.
Give them the script. Talk about expectations - theirs and yours. Ask your child what their goals are for the school year. What are your rules about chores or homework and screen time? Remind them or create reasonable rules together.
Plan healthy meals and snacks. Involve your child in the process so they learn how to make healthy food choices. Brainstorm family dinner ideas, or fun lunch options. Your children can help plan, prepare and pack those lunches!
Meet your team! Meet teachers, coaches and program leaders. Take time to introduce yourself to teachers, coaches and anyone else who will spend time with your child this year. Let them know the best way to reach you and share any important details about your child. What is your child's strength? Where do they need extra support?
Schedule child care. Are you a working parent and need before and/or after school care ? Plan those arrangements now so everyone knows where they are going and what is happening.
Find some extracurricular activities. Sign up for fall sports and other school activities. Research shows that getting kids involved in activities after school creates a sense of belonging and self-worth. Remember to maintain balance between family time, school and other activities.
Celebrate summer. Have a good time with your family. Plan a few final family activities. Have a board game night, make smores, go for a swim in one of our beautiful local lakes or pools. Go see that movie you didn't have time to see this summer, take a family bike ride or visit a local attraction like a park or museum. Be together.
Mental Health Foldable - Fortune Teller
Learn how to make a “fortune teller” to practise positive mental health strategies with our Mental Health Foldable - Fortune Teller. We have one for parents to create with their younger children and one older children can make themselves.
Our Reading Books for Social Emotional Development guide provides information on how you can use books to teach emotions, recommendations for books that support social emotional learning, and other activities that focus on learning about emotions.
Click on the picture to access a downloadable copy.
Regulation Through Routine
Regulation Through Routine is a resource developed by our Inclusive Education team to help parents establish a routine at home with their families.
Social Distance Greetings
Need some help showing how much you care without being able to give a hug or high five? Check out these social distance greetings and a video demonstration created by our wellness coaches! Click on the picture for a downloadable document.