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How to Talk to your Child about the Upcoming School Year

It’s still 2020 and nothing is normal about this upcoming school year. You’re probably deciding whether or not to send your child back to school or to do virtual school. You’re weighing the pros and cons of both options.  Maybe your school district made that decision for you. Maybe you’re completely overwhelmed yourself. You’re likely grappling with the pressure of such a big decision, while also wondering how the heck you’re going to talk to your kids about it. Well, here are a few tips:

  1. Open up the conversation 
    • Regardless of which decision you are going to make, open up the conversation. Make time and space for this. I’ve heard several times that parents want to know exactly what their decision is before they even talk to their child about it. Although understandable, holding space for a conversation regarding the upcoming school year is different than allowing your child to decide what is going to happen in the upcoming school year. You can approach it like this, “Hey! I’m sure you’ve been thinking about the upcoming school year. Want to go for a walk and talk about it?”
  2. Normalize their feelings. 
    • This is not a “normal” situation but it is the reality. If they’re feeling angry about it, let them feel angry. Maybe they feel sad because they won’t be able to sit close to their friends or see their teachers every day. Let them feel the feeling! Don’t try to change it in any way, just reflect their experience and normalize it! For example, “It’s okay that you’re disappointed about the upcoming school year. I feel disappointed too. I’m so thankful you shared with me!”
    • It can be tempting to say “Don’t worry, everything will be back to normal soon” or something that sounds comforting. However, it is truly the most supportive if you just respond by hearing where they are.
  3. Talk about what will happen next 
    • It’s okay to not have an answer on what exactly will happen. It’s okay to say, “we’re still thinking about what the best decision is for you and our family” or to share the reality of a decision you’ve made. Allowing your child to share how they feel doesn’t mean that they are going to change your decision, it means you are there for them in this confusing time!
  4. Let them ask you questions
    • Do your best to answer the questions that your child/ teen might have. If you don’t know the answer, let them know that you’ll do some research and get back to them.
  5. Let them know they can talk to you about this moving forward
    • Sometimes kids don’t want to stress their parents out or even know how to start a conversation about something that usually brings about bigger feelings. Let them know that they can talk to you about this upcoming school year, can ask any questions they have, and that you are available! It’s okay to get creative about this- maybe you start a journal to write back and forth to one another or maybe you plan a 30-minute “chat-time” each week.

Know that you don’t have to have this conversation perfectly to have it! When something is big and scary and we don’t talk about it, the anxiety just grows. So know that simply holding space, encouraging a conversation, and letting your child know that you are there for them has the potential to decrease some of that anxiety. You’ve got this! 

If you or your child/teen needs help with this moving forward, give us a call


Marrisa Wilson Counselor for teens tweens kids grand rapids ada MIAbout the author:

Marissa Wilson is a Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW) and a Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT-200) at Lifeologie. She teaches psychotherapeutic yoga and works with adolescents to help them be themselves. Marissa believes that every person (including tweens/teens) already has what they need to heal, but sometimes our “okay-ness” gets stuck under layers of self-protection and hurt. To find out more about Marissa, check out her biography.


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