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Classroom Confident: Back to school mental health

Published: Aug. 11, 2021 at 10:52 AM CDT
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BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) - Heading back to school can impact students differently, especially during a pandemic, however Donna Willett, Bryan ISD’s Director of Counseling, says there are steps families can take with their child to send them back to school feeling confident and prepared.

Overall, the best thing parents can do to help lessen the anxiety and back-to-school stress for students is to plan ahead, according to Willett.

Willett suggests attending back-to-school events and setting routines to make the actual first day easier for the whole family. She suggests doing the following things before school starts:

  • Plan what school mornings are going to look like
  • Walk your student in to meet the teacher
  • Attend Meet the Teacher Night or Open House

Additionally, Willett suggests parents plan to have a conversation with their child about face coverings before they start school, as they will not be mandated in the classroom in Texas.

“With choice comes a difference of opinion, so talk to your students about whatever choice you make may not be the choice someone else has made,” said Willett. “And if there are situations where a student may be bullied because they are wearing a mask or maybe not wearing a mask, [have the student] ask the bully to stop [and tell them] to go find an adult. Let someone know because we want you to feel safe and we want to support whatever decision you make.”

When it is time for the first day, Willett says being comfortable with attending school is important for both parents and children

“Show them that you are comfortable being in school and that will help them be comfortable also,” said Willett.

Not only is mental health important heading into school and on the first day, but Bryan ISD will also be addressing it throughout the academic year.

Willett says the district has added some new curriculum along with the normal lessons.

“We are going to be teaching our normal guidance lessons focusing on the essential eight and those social and emotional skills like we are starting with self-awareness, but then we are going to do some additional supports at various grade levels throughout elementary through high school to really start working with students to build those skills, so they are prepared for whatever situation comes,” said Willett.

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