Ways for parents to talk to their kids about the upcoming school year

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) – More than 6,000 kids are enrolled in the La Crosse School District, according to the latest numbers, and all of them will be starting the school year online.

While many kids are preparing themselves for this new era of learning, there are some who still need some help.

In this day and age, kids really need that good feeling to interact with one another.

“There’s a lot of friends they haven’t seen since the beginning of March,” Marie Johnson said, who is a mother of three.

Two of Johnson’s children are heading back to school next month.

“I have a daughter who’s 10, “Johnson said. “And then my son is 7, both of them at Emerson Elementary.”

Her kids don’t want to be learning alone.

“They miss their friends,” Johnson said. “They miss their teachers…I miss them having just that schedule of normalcy.”

But she is already taking advantage of setting up a new routine for her kids.

“When we wake up in the morning, we’re gonna brush our teeth, we’re gonna eat cereal, and then there’s gonna be this time frame for doing in-school work,” Johnson said.

Having a proper routine is just one way parents can get their kids comfortable going back to school.

“At whatever point they’d be able to return to the classroom, they’ll be better prepared to kind of settle back into that routine because it may already kind of mirror what’s happening at home,” Gundersen Health System marriage and family therapist Meg Jelen said.

Jelen says an unorganized routine leads to more anxiety.

“It can be more difficult to track what’s been done,” Jelen said.

On top of setting up a routine, she recommends parents don’t ask “yes” or “no” questions.

“Try to ask some open-ended questions,” Jelen said. “Tell me what you’re thinking about the upcoming school year? Or how do you feel about the plans for this school year?”

And of course, keep safety precautions in mind.

“So it’s really important that we’re washing and sanitizing our hands, not touching our face, keeping our masks on, and limiting our contact with other people,” Jelen said.

Johnson is making sure her kids stay safe. But at the same time, she says they should also be enjoying some time outside.

“I need them to have that social interaction as much as they need it,” Johnson said.

Jelen advises parents to focus more on situations they can control, and not spend too much time worrying about the challenges of the upcoming school year.