When our daughter Sophia started her senior year, we didn’t think it would end at home. School closures have changed the game for the class of 2020. Milestones like prom and graduation have been canceled or at least postponed. The last several weeks of time with classmates have been replaced with at-home, remote learning. If you have a high school senior, they may be understandably hurting right now. You can help them through it by knowing how to comfort your senior during school closures.
How to Comfort Your Senior During School Closure
With the constant influx of press conferences and news releases about the virus and social distancing, it can be scary for adults and children alike. Educate yourself but remain calm. If you’re able to, stay home, but don’t obsess in front of your teen. You also may be sad about not seeing your senior celebrate her prom, graduation, and other milestones, but make sure that you stay calm for their sake. This doesn’t mean that you can’t show them you’re disappointed. But letting them know that things are going to be OK can alleviate their anxiety.
Have Realistic Expectations for Schooling
As a senior, your student is most likely getting communication from their school to meet graduation requirements and finish up the year. If you’ve normally let your student handle communication with their teacher, it’s OK to step in at this time if schooling is too much to handle. For example, if your student is expected to take on the same workload or learn no content with little to no teacher assistance, it may be time to send an email to the teacher to see what the best course of action is. If you are dealing with job loss, illness, or lack of digital access at home, be honest with teachers and administrators about what you can do. At the same time, let your senior know that you are there to help.
Plan Celebrations for After Social Distancing Ends
Social distancing will not last forever. Comfort your senior by planning something fun to celebrate their accomplishments in the fall or even wintertime on college or work breaks. Consider a trip, a graduation party, or even a graduation “ceremony” with friends and family. Just because the official graduation ceremony does not happen (or is postponed) doesn’t diminish the accomplishment of your senior.
Plan Celebrations While Social Distancing
Why not celebrate your senior at the end of the school year? Make a delicious meal at home or order carry-out (if available in your area) or delivery to support the local economy. Schedule a Zoom call with friends and family to celebrate your senior. Make a video of pictures of your graduate. Get a special gift to show them how proud you are of them. Your senior did it! Celebrate the end of the school year when it happens even though it may be at home.
Ease Up on Screen Time Restrictions
We try not to let the kids be on phones and screens too often, but they are definitely missing their friends. With distance learning being online, they are on computers and phones to do school work, but they also need that socialization with their peers. Let your senior connect with their friends through social media and texting responsibly, even if it’s something you normally restrict on school nights. Mental health is just as important as education and physical health right now, and they are missing their friends.
Enjoy Family Time
During the school year, our kids are so busy with activities and homework that it’s hard to connect sometimes! The blessing of being at home is that there is more time to spend as a family. Play some board games together, watch a movie that everyone can enjoy, and just be together. If your senior is headed to college in the fall, this may be the last extended period you’ll get family time for a while. Create some family rituals. Consider planting a backyard vegetable garden or making a new recipe. Don’t let this precious time slip away!
Validate Your Senior’s Feelings
Every child will deal with school closure their senior year in their own way. Your senior may withdraw and not want to talk about how they are feeling. On the other hand, they may want to open up and maybe even cry. Still, others may be just fine with ending the school year at home. No matter how your senior is doing with the current state of their school year, validate their feelings. Tell them that whatever they are feeling is OK, and they are welcome to talk about it with you. If your senior is experiencing anxiety or depression due to school closure or other changes, it’s OK to reach out for professional help.
As Sophia ends her senior year, we’ve wanted to focus on how to celebrate her these last several weeks of school. It’s so important to us that she knows how amazing she is and what an accomplishment it is to graduate high school! No matter what your senior is feeling at this time, help them remain calm and focused.
These tips will help comfort your senior during school closure. What are you doing to help your senior during this time? Let us know!