It’s back-to-school time and as parents, we want to make sure our children get off to a positive start. 

That’s why we asked Rabbi Aaron Levitt, executive director of Jewish Educational Services, to share some insights about what we can do to make the school year a great one for our kids. 

Levitt recently joined Jewish Educational Services, a new agency of The Associated: Jewish Federation of Baltimore. It was created this summer to support Jewish day schools, congregational schools and preschools, along with educators and families.  

How can parents help to ease the transition back to school for kids who have been negatively impacted by the pandemic? 

We are only starting to understand the mental health impact that COVID-19 has had on our children, and schools are devoting more resources to this area. 

Parents can talk to their children about resilience and share how excited they are for them to start a new school year. 

Parents whose children are anxious should communicate with the school ahead of time to put into place supports. Children should receive a consistent message that the adults in their lives are there for them, that it is ok to ask for help, and that tough times don’t last; tough people do.

What is the best way to handle separation anxiety? 

Parents can ease potential anxiety at the start of the school year by having their child visit the classroom and meet the teacher ahead of time.  

Having a nightly practice of the child picking out their clothes and snacks for the next day, or creating short goodbye rituals for drop-off times, can also help build routine. If your child is still having difficulty, speak to the school about identifying an adult who can greet the child each day and make them feel welcome. 

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The Associated Contributors are writers from The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore.