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Heading Back to School

Although the COVID-19 threat is not over, we are returning to a more normal environment and your child will likely be attending school or preschool again after a year of remote learning. Here are our ideas on that.

2020 was an extremely difficult year for everyone but even more so for the young ones. Children of all ages were isolated from their friends and in many cases confined to a small, indoor environment. While there were some positive elements as parents and children had more time together, the confinement might have taken its toll.

Families adapted to the new environment with "virtual" everything - virtual parties, virtual playdates, and virtual gaming. And Zoom increased its daily user community to a staggering 300 million.

As governments across the world ease out of a locked-down, quarantined environment, most children will be going back to the classroom and be able to mix with their old friends. It is unlikely that this will be the same as it was pre-pandemic and there will be a new set of "rules" which will be brought in. After months at home, they will probably return to an environment quite different from the classrooms that they left.

Still, everyone is waiting with eager anticipation for a return to "normal" although this return will be gradual over many months, or even years. For adults, this will be stressful but for children, particularly the younger ones, the stress level might be even higher.

Here are some steps we believe will be useful in helping your child adapt.

1. Reach out to your school or preschool and find out if there are new rules and, if so, what they will be. Plan for the changes which can be expected and tell your child what to expect before they turn up on their first day.

2. Talk to your child and tell them what to expect – stress the benefits of meeting their friends again but also tell them, honestly, that they will face challenges – social distancing, facemasks, handwashing, etc. may still be in place. They will be somewhat accustomed to many of these at home, but others may be new or different.

3. Consider giving them a reward for "tackling the unknown" – a new outfit, a new backpack, a new blanket, a new lunch box.

4. Use a fictional character or characters to provide them with strength in their imagination. For example, "How do you think the Five Enchanted Mermaids would overcome these challenges?". We have added some wise words at the end of this blog from the Mermaids themselves, which you can read to them.

5. Host a party for them and their friends before they go back so they can get to know their friend group before facing the changes at school. If necessary, hold a virtual party.

6. Plan a party for your child and her friends for a week or so after going back to school. Tell your child about this before they return to school so they can select their friends for invitations and go in with an upbeat message for them.

7. After their first day, talk to them about their experiences. What was easy? What was difficult? What made them happy? What made them sad.

Let us know your thoughts in the Comments section.

From the Five Enchanted Mermaids:

Hi, I'm Emily!

I know how hard it has been. Last year was difficult and we were all isolated from our relations and friends. Going back to school, or going there for the first time, will be stressful. When things are happening around us that we don't understand, it's a good idea to remind ourselves to be brave. Sometimes I sing my favorite song and hug my favorite stuffed animal.

Hi, I'm Jenny!

When you go back to school, you will probably feel unsure and confused. When that happens to me, I smile on the outside, even if I don't feel like smiling on the inside. Then I notice that my outside smile helps me feel better!

Hi, I'm Sofia!

If you understand what's bothering you, then it's a lot easier to find the solution. Sometimes we get cranky and don't know why. It could be because you are not used to being at school. Chat with yourself – ask yourself: Why am I sad today?

Hi, I'm Anna!

After a year away, we can now go to the park and play with our friends. That will make me happy but it will be rather strange. When this happens I tell myself to be kind to ME! I say nice things to myself and it helps me feel happier.

Hi I'm Zari!

If you're unsure about why some things are changing, it's a good time to reach out to a trusted adult to ask them for information and support – and a really good hug! We all know that can help.

The Five Enchanted Mermaids celebrate diversity in our world and the belief that each child deserves to have a mermaid that looks like them. Through their personalities and traits, they weave stories that help teach skills for children in this age group.

​The idea for the Five Enchanted Mermaids was born to provide a fun but educational backdrop for girls aged 3 to 7 years. The characters address emotional skills (making friends, resolving conflicts, coping with change, making their own choices, and "being good people") and educational skills (learning to read, the alphabet, counting, symmetrical shapes, time, the value of monetary coins/notes) that are important at that age in the development of young girls.

​The stories use each of the diverse mermaids as a role model for behavior and values.

​LifeMadeSimple, LLC and acclaimed children's book author, Lois Petren, are collaborating to provide a series of books, party accessories, and other appropriate items to support these goals.

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