Five Tips for Setting Expectations for a COVID-19 School Year with Your Child

Posted on August 21, 2020

Returning to school brings about a range of emotions for most children: excitement about seeing classmates again, nervousness about what a new school year will bring, maybe even fear if the last school year had some challenges.

But as Jason Piller of the Lincoln Park Huntington Learning Center says, back to school this year will be like no other start to the school year. “Parents absolutely should prepare their children for this school year, because without a doubt, it’s going to look and feel a lot different,” he says. Piller offers five tips for setting expectations for a “COVID-19” school year with your child:

  1. Remind your child that things could change. If nothing else, you should prepare your child for change, especially if your child is the type to like a steady routine. It’s possible that your school will start the year off doing in-person learning and have to switch to remote or hybrid partly through the year. Talk about expecting the unexpected this school year.
  2. Go over the learning methods and platforms being introduced right now by your school. Chances are, your school has sent emails about some of the learning platforms or methods that will be used by your child’s teachers this year. If possible, show those to your child so that he or she can get a little familiar. Talk about the difference between asynchronous and synchronous learning and what your school has planned.
  3. Discuss the school-day schedule. Again, if your school has communicated what a typical school day will look like, share that with your child. Middle and high school students might be on block schedules with fewer, longer classes each day or have “A” and “B” days with alternating classes. Elementary students might be grouped together to minimize movement or eating in their classrooms. Whatever has been shared with you, share with your child to help him or her get mentally prepared.
  4. Talk about being safe. There will be many changes and things to get used to this school year, including adopting best practices in hygiene and interacting much differently with classmates. It’s critical that your child understands why these safety measures are in place, how to minimize the spread of germs, why masks must be in place and how important it is to maintain distance from classmates. Talk about these changes and be patient as your child grapples with them and asks questions.
  5. Focus on the positive. Find ways to help your child frame situations positively and stay focused on the good things happening. If your child is returning to school for in-person learning, talk about how great it will feel to see people every day again. If your child is doing online learning, brainstorm ways to maintain social connections with friends and classmates. And while you can’t see the future, it might help your child to be reminded from time to time that the current state of things will not last forever. Tell your child to do his or her best and that you’re always available to talk when things are hard.

Huntington is proud to offer a variety of programs and resources that help students progress and succeed academically. Homework help offers one-to-one instruction with a certified tutor to review and reinforce content learned, prepare for upcoming assignments, and master organizational skills.

Call 1-800 CAN LEARN and visit to get started with an initial evaluation.

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