Dr Keller discusses the best ways to help children prepare for reentering school life after being absent since Spring Break. Reporter Jamie Cerretta asks questions to encourage parents to get their kids ready to attending school differently this year.

Video courtesy of Good Morning Arizona.

Reporter – Jamie Cerretta:

For months now, kids have been learning at home, playing at home, really only socializing with their family. And in the next few months, that will change as kids start to go back to school, back to their extracurricular activities.

This morning we have Dr. Martin Keller joining us to share with us some ideas on re-socializing our kiddos.

Doctor, talk with me about how this current time … our kids left for spring break and they never went back to school.

How does that really impact the child’s psyche and development?

Kids are Resillient

Dr. Martin Keller:

Well, there’s no question this Coronavirus shelter at home time been tough for some kids. But I’m pleased to say that our children are resilient.

And I think it’s important for parents to recognize that the vast majority of kids will return to school and social activities without any difficulty.

The important thing is to appreciate their resilience and to expect them to do well. Parents need to be careful to not in any way plant, either unconsciously or consciously, any concerns about their child’s adjustment.

How to Help Your Child Prepare for School and Activities

Reporter – Jamie Cerretta:

So what you’re saying is to prepare them for success. And we can do that by role-playing. We can prepare and also practice with them because the kids are going to most likely have to wear a mask to school. And, unfortunately, that may not be something that they’re grown accustomed to.

Dr. Martin Keller:

That’s very true. That’s very true. And we know from behavioral psychology, that if we can rehearse going back to school with kids and role play with them, this tends to reduce their anxiety.

In fact, a good thing to do for the first day back at school or the first day back at camp, talk about what will happen to them while driving to the camp or the school.

Then once you get there, walk them around the facility, introduce them to the counselors and teachers before they start into their activities. All of this will help ease the kids back into the socialized environment.

Preparing Kids with Special Needs

Reporter – Jamie Cerretta:

Talk to me about some kids who may be on the autism spectrum or who have ADHD or other learning disabilities. How we can help prepare them for this type of change.

Dr. Martin Keller:

Well, it is true that while the vast majority of kids are going to do just great, especially if parents expect them to do great. This will be especially true if parents empathize with them by validating their feelings and reflecting their feelings.

However, if you’re dealing with high-risk kids, those with ADHD, perhaps autism spectrum, kids suffering from severe anxiety or depressive disorders there are other things you can do.

Parents of these children really do need to spend a little extra time making accommodations for them. And those accommodations are readily available through talking to the camp counselor, the camp director, the school psychologist, and the principal.

Oftentimes it might involve giving them more one on one attention and reducing overstimulation in the environment.

In some cases, kids may need an aid to assist them in managing the adjustment of restarting school.

Will There Be Emotional Damage from This Time?

Reporter – Jamie Cerretta:

Do you think that spending three to five months where the kids really have not had the same level of socialization, couldstunt their development?

Dr. Martin Keller:

Well, there’s no data to support that, especially with technology.

So many parents have done a wonderful job introducing their kids to Skype and FaceTime, et cetera.

I want to emphasize that while it may be a little scary, and some kids might have slight difficulties, if the parents expect them to go back to school without difficulty, the vast majority of kids will do fine.

Wrap-Up: Resocializing Kids after Coronavirus

Prepare them, listen to them and then expect success.

Doctor Keller, thank you so much. We appreciate your time.