There’s no doubt about it. Your students will have questions as they start school. Children are most likely receiving different amounts and types of information at home. They will have varying levels of understanding about returning to school in person, as well as changes to school routines and safety procedures.

Here are five tips on how to talk to them:

  1. Answer questions honestly. Sometimes we try to minimize the truth when answering difficult questions, but this can lead to more confusion and concern. So, answer students’ questions honestly and to the best of your ability. If you don’t have an answer, that’s ok, too!
  2. Talk about safety practices. Explain the reasoning behind continued safety measures. For example: You can tell them “it’s very important to wash your hands often to keep our germs to ourselves and keep everyone healthy so you can keep coming to school.”
  3. Focus on mental wellness. Spend time each day talking about mental wellness. Let them know it’s ok to talk to you, a parent or another trusted adult about how they are feeling. Our Day Time Break provides specific examples for how students can be more mentally fit throughout their day.
  4. Support their social-emotional learning. It’s more important than ever to build in time to talk about social-emotional themes like empathy, communication, coping, and emotion identification and regulation. If you or your students are still wearing masks, this conversation may include how to express yourself with hand gestures or verbal communication. Learn more about how to talk to students about their emotions.
  5. Continue to support virtual students. If some of your students continue online learning while many of their peers return to school in person, it may be challenging for them. They may experience feelings of isolation or sadness. Do your best to include your virtual students in classroom activities and foster connections with their peers.