Transitions Back to School or Distance Learning


0:00:00 Alyssa

You're listening to Voices of Your Village, this is episode 186. Back to school is here and the transition is real. In this episode I'm going to support you with some hot tips and tricks for guiding your kiddos back to school. You can also head on over to our website and snag the back to school transition guide at It is a free guide to support you in doing this with your tiny humans. Head on over Alright folks, let's dive in. 


00:43:00    Alyssa

Welcome to Voices of Your Village, a place where parents, caregivers, teachers and experts come to support one another on this wild ride of raising tiny humans. We combined decades of experience with the latest research to create the modern parenting village. Let's dive into honest conversation about real parenting challenges, so it doesn't have to be this hard. I'm your host, Alyssa Blask Campbell. 


00:01:18    Alyssa

Right now, the number one thing we're getting questions about is this back to school transition, whether your child is going back in person or you're doing distance learning or it's a hybrid or maybe they are going to childcare. Maybe they're switching to a new classroom in child care or they're starting at a new space. There are so many different variations of what this back to school transition looks like this year. And almost all of them look different than they've ever looked. Today, I want to dive into what this looks like for us as adults and for supporting the tiny humans. We're going to break this episode into two parts before we can talk about what it looks like to support the tiny humans. We have to talk about us as adults, just like, if we're going to show up and do this work with kids. We have to do this work with ourselves first. So, number one, there's so much adult anxiety, right now, you know, we often get stuck in the past and in the future through this episode, I want to work with you on developing some tools and really taking a minute to think about what it would look like to live in the present. What's true right now? Not what was spring like, or how did this work in the past for you, or what did things used to look like in the past and staying away right now from, oh my gosh. What's this going to be in December, January, February, March, April, May all of it, instead of living in that future. Let's be here now. We can do some planning and some planning is necessary. You're speaking to a fellow planner. But the reality is if we aren't able to be in the present, then we're just spending the entire time in the future in order to support our kiddos right now. We've got to be here now, when you find yourself in a space where you're feeling anxious about the future or worried about even man, when this starts, what's it going to look like? Because I know what March and April looked like and that was really, really hard. The reality is that teachers are absolutely incredible. And when we switch to distance learning in the springtime, teachers were thrust into this, you know, one day they were in the classroom and the next day they were doing everything distance learning. They were thrown into the deep end just like parents were, just like kiddos were and now we've had quite a few months where teachers have been working on. What does this look like? What are the best ways to show up for families and with kiddos in a distance format? How do we do this? Teachers again are my superheroes, absolutely incredible. Have worked, most teachers that I've talked to have worked all summer long, trying to figure out how to do this in a way that's best for your kids, after probably the hardest spring many of them have ever had. Our childcare educators are working on what does this look like for protocols? How do we maintain safety and health regulations and also build connection and help kids feel safe and seen and flourish from a social emotional perspective. There's non-stop conversation for teachers behind the scenes. So what it looked like this spring will be different than what it looks like this fall. We have new tools in our toolbox to pull from teachers and caregivers and parents and kids. Everybody has a new toolbox to pull from. 


00:05:27    Alyssa

One of the things that I think is really important for us as the adults. Is being mindful of what and how we discuss school around the kiddos. If we're saying things like, oh, they hated distance learning and zoom. I can't believe we have to do this again. Guess what? They're going to hate it again this fall, they're going to hear you and they are going to show up and be like, I hate this. I don't want to do this. Yeah. What we say, matters, it's what they hear, it's what they're hearing than about themselves for saying things like they won't be okay if I hand them to some random administrator rather than their teacher, then yeah, they probably will be anxious about that. I have been checking in with so many Early Childhood Educators who have been working because our child care centers here in Vermont opened June 1st, and these kiddos are doing awesome. Awesome. Kiddos are wearing masks when they are required to wear masks and they are still socializing and playing and building language and having fun. They're doing really well. Kids are so resilient. Y'all resiliency is built in times of struggle. This is when we build resiliency, resiliency, is when we are in a hard season or we're experiencing something hard and we are able to regulate and figure out how to move forward. So what does that look like for us as adults? I think the two biggest components are self-care self-care. Self-care self-care self-care y'all. I'll never stop talking about this because we've made it out to be this big thing where, like, what if you don't have time or money or whatever? Self-care is not to me, something that's like this big grandiose thing. It's eating food. It's moving your body, every couple hours throughout the day, even if it's a one song dance party or standing up and stretching for 30 seconds or saying to a child. You know what, I can't have you on my body right now, because my body is so tired. You can sit next to me and I could hold your hand. Or you could help me cook dinner, but I can't pick you up right now. Setting boundaries for ourselves setting boundaries around work setting boundaries with our partner setting boundaries with family with kiddos is a beautiful way to take care of ourselves. When we are giving at the expense of ourselves, we are often navigating in codependency. We have more information on codependency over on our Instagram. We've been talking a bunch about it. If you are going to show up for these kiddos, you've got to show up for yourself first. You truly can't pour from an empty cup. So drink your water, have your coffee, prioritize your sleep, let the dishes be, let the mess be. Y'all I grew up in a household that was basically always messy. There were five kiddos and two parents. And my mom worked her butt off and waitressed on weekends and was home with us during the day and my dad worked. And one of the things they just didn't prioritize was making sure we had a clean house. You guys, we've talked about this before but self-care doesn't have to cost money. It doesn't have to be this big thing. It's not a mani or a pedi. It's not something you're saying like, oh I have this vacation in a week, or we're going to make it to the weekend. It's what are you doing for yourself throughout the day to regulate your nervous system. That's what taking care of yourself looks like. And I think it's the most beautiful thing to model for a child. So maybe taking even if you take five minutes, one night and just brain dump. What are the things I can do to take care of myself. I, when I started this journey kept a little sticky note for myself of three to five things that I could do in the moment to take care of myself. So if I found that I hadn't prioritized it throughout the day and I was getting dysregulated. I had a little list to pull from so that I wasn't trying to think of something. While I was dysregulated, that's very hard to do. 


00:10:11    Alyssa

Okay. Next is to have an outlet that isn't your child to process your feelings. There's so much unknown, and unknown, are you ready for this, actually? Unknown, health and safety are the three biggest anxiety triggers. Hello covid. We're hitting all three here. And so of course, anxiety is at an all-time high. We had a pretty anxious society before that was getting by. And then we threw this huge wrench in the system and we have a whole lot of folks, whose biggest triggers our health, safety and the unknown, and now you're living it. Your child is not responsible for regulating your anxiety. And in order for them to have a safe space to break down to, you need to be in charge of your feelings. It's such a hard truth and it's unique to the parent or caregiver to child relationship. It's not true peer-to-peer, it's not true in a partnership. It's not true, you know, when they're in a social group at school. It's not somebody else's job to be the person they break down to. This is a unique relationship. So, who's that going to be? Who do you have to turn to to process your feelings with? Some folks are utilizing therapy, if that's not something you have access to. Is there a friend? Is there somebody that you can reach out and text? Gosh, Rach. And I text each other all day long. Just about two and a half hours ago. I texted her and said, Zack is driving me absolutely nuts and I need to talk, because I knew I was not regulated enough to talk to him yet. Who is it that you can turn to that can help you process this? Let me give you a hot tip here. When I was struggling with anxiety, when I was like in the depths of it, I used to live with it cripplingly. It very much dictated, a lot of my life and I would end up in panic attacks. I found myself turning to people who would commiserate with me, who would join me in the anxiety, as I started to do healing work. I found myself gravitating toward people who are more regulated and realize that that's been a game-changer for me. When I am feeling fear, starting to feel anxious. If I reach out to somebody who is also triggered by this topic. We end up in an anxious spiral together. So I want you to think for a minute. It's these people that I turn to when I'm feeling fear or anxiety, weren't always people that I like gravitated towards because you I wanted someone who was going to join me in the anxiety, you know, like that's what I reached toward and I have had to, like consciously start to choose folks who would show up in a different way, who would show up and validate in empathize but not be codependent with me. A person who empathizes can hold space for your fear without joining you in it without getting dysregulated by it with you. Who is that in your life that you can turn to as a sounding board? So Rachel is my go-to person for empathy. I even find it helpful. If I can just text her, even if she can't text back yet. Just offloading, my fear to her knowing that at some point today. She's going to reach back out to me is helpful. If you feel like you don't have a person like this. One of my favorite tools is journaling. I will literally brain dump all my fears. I will just free flow. No rules, write it all out. And then sometimes I'll go back through and write. What I'm really afraid will happen. And then I write what I'm in control of and what I am not in control of. We have such a desire. We keep thinking. Oh, if I was in control of this thing, I would feel better. Sometimes we to do list our way out of it, or keep trying to gain that control. But the reality is, there will always be things you're not in control of. And so it's kind of like happiness where if you're waiting for that thing that will make you happy. You're never going to get there because it's a choice. It's a choice to say there are things that I can't control and there are unknowns right now, and I'm going to do my best today. I'm going to do what works for us today and tomorrow, I can wake up and make that choice again. But I can't control so many other pieces of the puzzle. That control is where we are in fear of the future. Let's come back to the present moment. You can ground yourself. If you are starting to feel anxious, you can ground yourself in the present moment by noting smells around you what your feet are touching? Where your hands are, literally bringing yourself back to where is my body right now? So say we're doing our work on the adult side. What does this look like to support the kids? Because, of course, they've been feeling so much of our anxiety for months, they felt dysregulated because their world has changed too their school routines look different, their life routines look different. They're wearing masks now, there are so many rules that are different than they were before. Or the expectations changed. Visual aid support is crucial for navigating life for letting kids know what's coming next. If every single day. They're not sure what comes next. Every single day, they're going to be feeling some dysregulation because you're looking at the unknown of what's coming in December. They are looking at like, what's happening this afternoon? What's happening today? We can support them with a schedule for the day. Now. This schedule does not have to look a certain way. It doesn't have to be pretty or a fancy. You don't have to laminate things. There doesn't need to be any color coding. Whatever works for you is great. You can reach out to your kids school and say, hey, do you have any templates for schedules of the day that you use at school? They might have them and be able to send them home to you. You are creating the schedule that works for your family unit. What we know about the central nervous system is that we need input every couple hours, every 90 minutes to two hours to help maintain regulation. You can also create a calendar for the week or for the month. Whatever works for your family right now. Maybe you don't know or you feel nervous about saying what's happening throughout the month. You can create a calendar that shows what's happening throughout the week. What day is the school day? What day is a home day? And then in that day, you have it then a schedule for each day that says, what's happening throughout the day, we're going to have, we're going to wake up and get dressed or brush teeth or whatever. And we're going to have breakfast and then we have play time and then we have a zoom call and then like going through what is this? What does this look like? What's the schedule for the day? If you have young children under the age of three for sure, but probably under the age of five. I would do a morning schedule and an afternoon schedule so that it's not too overwhelming for them. Often when they're that young in the middle of the day they're going to have a nap or at least a rest time. So that breaks up then when the schedule would switch. 


00:19:05    Alyssa

In times of transition, we often loosen boundaries because we're like, oh we know that they things are really hard for them or overwhelming for them. And so we shift our boundaries. Kids need clear consistent boundaries in times of transition or change more than any other time because what they're asking is what the expectation now? I knew what it was, but what is it now? And they're going to ask you over and over and over. That's their job. And reminder that when you set a boundary, it's a child's job to push it to see if it's real to see if you're going to hold it to say. Is that really the expectation? What happens when I do this? And we get to hold it and let them know we're going to. It helps them feel safe. It lets them know we are in control and they don't have to control all the things. That that's not their responsibility. That's a huge weight to carry. We know as adults, how many of us are like, I'm done adulting. I don't want to be the one calling the shots. Will somebody, please decide what's for dinner and make it. It's too much to put that on kids. That's why we do it as adults. It's our responsibility. And when we are holding boundaries, we're letting them know that they don't have to call the shots. Validation through this transition will be huge. Validating, the things that are different and not with a, but you'll be okay. That's not validation. That's sympathy. That's us trying to solve the problem and have them not express their fear. If they're saying like, oh, we had to wear this mask or Miss. Sarah's going to pick me up at the door and I want Miss Emily to pick me up at the door. We can validate that. Yeah, that's so different. Usually, I would bring you into the classroom and it's so different with covid. It's okay to feel nervous. We don't have to problem solve it. We don't have to tell them they don't need to feel this way. They do already, let's chat about what feels different. What feels the same? Hold space for when they're expressing that they miss socialization the way that they knew it or that there are unknowns and that they're not sure what schools going to look like. Ask their teachers. If they can send home a schedule for the day or what the expectation is that you can communicate with your kiddos, here bud. This is what they sent home from school. Would you like to look at it together? It talks through what your school days going to look like? So that you know what to expect. My friend Ellen before the kids went back to her child care. She did a video of her showing her different masks and what her face looked like with it and what her voice sounded like when she was wearing a mask, and she read a book to the kiddos, wearing a mask, and she took it off. And then she told the kiddos that if they had any questions about it, if they were curious about it that she would be happy to talk to them. That they are always welcome to ask their questions. I thought that was awesome. It was like a five minute video she sent home for the kiddos. And it let them see what to expect a little, snapshot into it. And let's just be honest with these kiddos. Especially our older kiddos. I want to tell them hey, bud. I will let you know what we know when we know it part of life, includes not always knowing what's going to happen and letting them know that we as the adults have a plan in place for different things that may happen. So that the kiddo doesn't feel like they're going to have to figure it out. Again, taking that responsibility off their shoulders. Hey, bud this is different. We are figuring out a plan for you. You don't have to figure it out. We'll let you know what we know if there are any changes. If there's anything that's going to be new will tell you once we know, and we will figure out a plan if things do change. You don't have to figure that out. Especially when they're hearing conversations where we're feeling overwhelmed or anxious. A lot of kids will take that on as their problem to solve. In an effort to have you not be anxious anymore. And so communicating to them if you are feeling anxious letting them know. Yeah, you know buddy sometimes I'm feeling a little scared too. When I'm feeling scared about it. Here are some things that I do to calm my body and even when I'm feeling scared about it, I will figure out a plan. You still don't have to do this. I will figure it out. Let's ease the burden on our kiddos. So many of our kids, they hold the weight of the world on our shoulders and they want a regulated caregiver. And so they will learn what to do to have a regulated caregiver. For some kiddos they learn oh, I can't cry in front of this person or I can't express my hard things in front of this person or if I clean up all my stuff, then they'll be regulated. We learn codependency pretty early. They're learning how to help you regulate pretty early and we get to let them know. Hey, bud I can take care of that. Sometimes I do get frustrated. Sometimes. I feel angry. Sometimes I feel mad. Sometimes I feel scared. Here are some things that I do to calm my body. You don't have to calm for me. It's okay for you to feel frustrated, too. It's okay for you to make mistakes. It's okay for you to feel scared. You feeling scared won't make me feel scared. I can handle your big stuff. They're always looking to us and asking us that never with those words always through behaviors, but they're constantly asking us that. It's been really cool in our re parenting class to see folks are to really develop this toolbox. If you feel like you need guidance and support and doing that, come on in it's We were pretty active group in there of folks who are doing this work, who are building a toolbox that they didn't get from childhood. The world can feel heavy and hard. Man it can feel overwhelming and we need to lean on each other so that we're not leaning on our kids for this. You do not have to navigate this alone. We're here with you. 


00:26:27    Alyssa

Thanks for tuning in to Voices of Your Village. Check out the transcript at Did you know that we have a special community over on Instagram hanging out every day with more free content? Come join us at Take a screenshot of you tuning in, share it on the gram and tag to let me know your key takeaway. If you're digging this podcast, make sure to subscribe so you don't miss an episode. We love collaborating with you to raise emotionally intelligent humans.


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