New Providence School District

News from the Counseling and Special Services Departments

Preparing Your Child to Return to School

Throughout the summer, the New Providence School District has been working to revise its plans to ensure that we maximize the learning opportunities for our students, even while the community continues to work through Covid-related issues. Now, as the new academic year approaches and students prepare to re-enter school on a full-time/full-day basis, we want to provide our families with some resources to help alleviate any concerns that may develop.

While it is common for children to be anxious before the start of a new school year, some students may have new or exacerbated fears this year. Students may have become accustomed to a remote school environment and may struggle to separate from parents. Some may be understandably concerned about their health and safety while at school, worry about academic or social issues, or even feel stressed about staying for a full day.

Be on the Lookout for

  • Increased unwillingness to separate from a parent or caregiver

  • Expressions of worry about returning to school that appear out of the norm for your child, and interfere with daily functioning

  • Persistent loss of sleep or appetite

  • Intense emotional or behavioral outbursts

How to Help

Validate feelings: It is important to speak with your children and validate their feelings. Hear their concerns and give them the space to express them. Also, be sure to help your children develop ways to manage their worries. Answer questions that they have honestly and at an appropriate developmental level. If you don’t have the answers, make a list together with your child of the questions and establish a plan to get them answered.

Promote safety: Reassure your children that their school has plans in place for keeping them safe and remind them that both you and their teachers are watching closely to make sure that they are safe and comfortable going back to school. Review good hygiene habits with them, and empower them to do their part to protect themselves and their friends.

Remain calm: It is important to remember that our children read and follow the cues that we set for them. Even if you are feeling anxious, project calm to the best of your ability. If you have questions or concerns, get the help that you need to find the answers. Focus on helping your children understand that being proactive can help alleviate worries. Avoid leading them with questions that can promote anxiety, replacing questions such as “Are you nervous about starting school?” with phrasing more neutral in tone, such as “Are you feeling ready to go back to school?”

Remain positive: Going back to school in person is a positive step and demonstrates that the community is working through the challenges caused by the pandemic. With the start of the year comes the other activities that students look forward to, including in-person socialization, participation in sports and/or activities, and lunch and recess for elementary students. Remind your children of some of their favorite activities, especially those that may have been unavailable to them last year. Consider planning specific fun activities that your children can look forward to early in the school year.

Set clear routines: Remind your students that going back to a full day of school is the norm, and then set schedules to reinforce this. Practice transitioning from the relaxed pace of summer to the more regimented schedule of the school year. For younger children especially, begin now to have them go to bed and wake up earlier to reset their body clocks before the first day of school.

Practice separating: If your child is reluctant to leave home or enter the school building, take the opportunity to visit their school. Kids can explore the building, see their classroom, and try out their new lockers (if applicable). If you would like to try this, please remember to call ahead to notify the school. If your child is struggling to separate from you, it may be helpful to have them practice. For instance, you may try having the child play in a separate room, stay with another trusted adult while you go out, or arrange opportunities to get together with friends .

When Should I Seek Help?

In many instances, students will benefit from time to adjust and the extra support provided at home and during school hours. However, more difficult or persistent issues may arise. If your child is having meltdowns and you are unable to get him/her to school, do not hesitate to reach out to your school counselor or child’s case manager for support. Also, if you notice that your child’s worries increase, or that their ability to function decreases, this is a good indication that additional help, either in school or in a private setting, would be useful.

How can the District help?

Social Emotional Learning and Trauma-Informed Practices

This website was updated over the summer and will continue to be throughout the school year. It provides links to helpful resources, articles, and events. (Last year’s information and articles have been archived and can also be accessed.)

New Providence School District personnel is always ready, willing and able to assist. From building administration to school nurses to Mental Health professionals, assistance is just a phone call or email away.

Q & A session for families

Monday, Aug. 30th, 12-1pm

This is an online event.

Dr. Harvey and Mrs. Shadis will be hosting a Q & A session for families via Zoom on Monday, August 30th from 12:00-1:00 PM. There will be no formal presentation, but we encourage you to pop in if you have additional questions or concerns surrounding mental health or social-emotional learning, especially as they pertain to the return to school.

Other Sources of Support

Your child’s pediatrician is also a good resource should you see sudden or heightened signs of anxiety in your child. Pediatricians can offer medical facts about Covid and safety precautions to uneasy children and youth, as well as provide referrals to outside therapists or agencies, if warranted.

In case of crisis or emergency, Performcare/Children's Mobile Response Services (1-877-652-7624) is a free service available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to help children and youth who are experiencing an emotional or a behavioral crisis. The services are designed to defuse an immediate crisis, keep children and their families safe, and connect them with ongoing support.

Contact Information

Should you have any questions or concerns regarding SEL, mental health, or our services to support students, please don’t hesitate to reach out to either of us. We look forward to seeing our students in-person in a few weeks!

Dr. Joseph Harvey

Director of Special Services

908-464-9050 ext. 4239

Mrs. Jillian Shadis

Director of School Counseling