‘Have open and honest conversations’: Child psychotherapist offers advice for new school year

Back To School

DENVER (KDVR) — Students’ learning experiences could look unlike their peers’ and even their siblings’, according to Dr. Annette Nunez, depending on how and where they learn this upcoming school year.

“It’s really contingent upon what each family decides to do,” said Nunez.

Depending on the district, some students may return to school in person while others will be entirely remote or in a hybrid model. 

“We say that kids are flexible but in a sense, this is so new to them that it can cause a lot of stress and anxiety and it’s going to manifest itself in different ways,” said Nunez.

Although in-person schooling is familiar, Nunez says it may present some challenges for students this year due to changes such as social distancing, wearing a mask and potentially not having common school practices like recess. Nunez says students in that situation may need extra communication from parents.

“Have open and honest conversations with your child. Ask what they’re afraid of, what are they anxious about, what is causing them stress,” said Nunez.

On the flip-side, she says students with a remote or hybrid learning model will face an entirely different set of potential hurdles. Nunez recommends sticking to a schedule, keeping lessons to 45 minutes or less and building in regular breaks. She also encourages parents to set up a fun learning space that is outside of their student’s bedroom.

“Instead of going school shopping to buy clothes, go shopping and create a school space for them. Buy new posters, buy a desk, buy a chair. Make them excited in that realm,” said Nunez.

In order to build in social interaction, Nunez recommends planning play dates outside the home during school days.

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