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A Parent’s Guide to Returning to School

The start of a new school year brings excitement and anxious concerns for most children

By Valeria Sales, Community Development and Integration Team Lead | September 3, 2021

The 2020/21 school year was certainly atypical. Students were home for the vast majority of time and parents had to create new study routines for their children during the extended period of lockdown. Some children handled distanced learning well, while other struggled.

The start of a new school year brings about excitement and anxious concerns for most children. This applies to their parents too! The questions that run through the minds of children and their parents are many. Here are a few you or your children may be thinking as we approach the start of the new school year:

  • What will “back to school” look and feel like after a year of online learning?
  • What will my new grade be like for me?
  • I’m moving to a new school I don’t know. What it’s going to be like?
  • How do I keep safe from the COVID-19 virus at school?
  • I was home with my children all last year. I’m worried about not being home after they return from school each day.

These are common thoughts and concerns that many children and their parents have. Remember, you are not alone and with a bit of planning and good family communication you can manage your children’s back to school anxieties.

Here are a few simple activities that will help you and your child:

Check-in With Yourself

The pressures of getting children set up for a new year or worries about children in the classroom during COVID can cause stress and anxiety for parents. That stress can be passed on to your children. Support yourself by reducing stress. Share your worries or concerns with your partner, a close friend or a family member and make a plan to care for yourself and support your child.

Listen to Your Child

 Acknowledge and validate your children’s feelings. Develop a plan together to handle their concerns and increase their confidence in returning to school. Ask questions such as “Are you worried about returning to school? Let’s talk about any worries and make a plan that makes sense for you to handle those worries.”

Get Organized

 Guide your child in the preliminary organization of objects that will be used the next school day such as: pens, books, notebooks and their school uniform. This can avoid setbacks, delays and inconveniences, such as having to return home to pick up something forgotten (homework, objects, etc.).

When organizing school supplies, ensure that all of the new “necessary items” are in the backpack: i.e., facemasks, a bag to store a used mask, hand sanitizer, etc.

Care Routines

 One of the most important steps for returning to class is hygiene care – personal, environment and materials – and respect for social and physical distancing. Establish rules with your child in a fun way with music or games. This makes the entire situation lighter, in addition to facilitating new habits.

Good News Stories

 With the excess of information and news, children can feel insecure, frightened and anxious about this moment in time. Reading good news stories can encourage and provide hope for your child. Remind your child that although these may be difficult times, if each one us takes care of themselves, respects others and does their part, we can thrive through the challenging times.

Try Meditation

 Some students may feel more apprehensive and anxious about activities in and outside the classroom. This can cause anxious and even aggressive behavior. Meditation helps to focus thinking in the here and now, reduces anxiety and allows children to start activities more calmly and with focus.

Abrigo Can Help

Abrigo offers parenting programs for both mothers and fathers. Our free, virtual Success by Six program is a tremendous resource for mothers of children age 0 to six. The workshop is provided in Portuguese and registration is now open for the next session starting September 24, 2021. Contact Valeria Sales at for more information or to secure your spot.

 Abrigo’s Fathering Program is for dads who recognize that their children have been exposed to conflict between parents and they are interested in developing their parenting relationship with their children. For more information or to secure your spot, please contact Luciana Pache de Faria at or 416-534-3434.


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Valeria Sales

Valeria Sales has worked at the Abrigo Centre for 20 years as a Counsellor, Intake and Volunteer Coordinator and leads a successful parenting program. She has undergraduate degrees in Community and Social Work and Speech Pathology and a Masters in Psychomotor Function – Child Development.

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