Online learning and mental health: How to prepare your kids for school outside the classroom

SPOKANE, Wash. – With school districts making their final decisions for the upcoming school year, stress is mounting for families trying to figure out what to do.

Many students and parents just wanted things to be normal again. Parents wanted their kids to walk through the doors of a school and learn in person again.

That hope was lost when some school districts announced they would start with distance learning.

With that announcement came a lot of stress, concerns and questions, such as trying to figure who will be home when the kids are, and how to help teach them.

Mother Ryan Sparks said it was tough breaking the news to her 7-year-old, who wanted to be at school with his friends again. She tried to prepare him, but he still got upset.

“He like had a big meltdown about it, wanted to see his friends, wanted to be at school, said this virus sucks,” she recalled.

Sparks knows learning from home has been tough on her children.

“The news for anybody, I understand is devastating, its stressful, it’s stressful on the kids and adults. For once, we’re experiencing something nobody’s ever experienced in the world,” Sparks said.

So, how can a parent break that news to their child?

Mandy Simmons, a parent peer support specialist with Lutheran Community Services, said parents need to actually talk to their children and make sure it’s an open conversation.

“I think just talking with them and listening with them, and listening to their fears and what they’re concerned about,” she advised. “Making sure that we’re talking about this on a level that they are at, age wise.”

Anxiety in kids can look like a range of things, from anger to being extra clingy. Simmons says it’s best to help kids verbalize what they’re feeling, and what they’re going through.

Simmons suggests that if a child seems to be really struggling, consider counseling. That advice goes for parents as well.

Parents should give themselves a break.

“You’re not the only parent who’s going through these decisions and also just really giving yourself grace and mercy, really giving yourself a lot of self care,” Simmons advised.

Check in with other people and see how they’re doing. When feeling isolated, talk to someone.

“The power of community is very important and it is important for us to check in on one another and make sure we’re doing okay,” Simmons said.

As a parent, be the best role model you can be for your kids.

Sparks tells 4 News Now she tries to focus on the positive, even though it can be hard.

“Life’s not going to be the same as what it was, I don’t think. And, if it is, it’s going to take a long time,” Sparks said. “What I’m trying to do is do what I can for my kids right now, and help them have a positive experience with it.”

There are many places to reach out to if you’re in need of help.

  • Lutheran Community Services: 509-747-8224
  • Washington Listens: 1-833-681-0211
  • 24/7 Regional Crisis Line: 1-877-266-1818
  • Crisis text line: Text “HEAL” to 741741

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