Why Our Kids May Actually Be Okay This Back-to-School Season

Special needs mom, Clinical and School Psychologist
09/14/20  11:37 AM PST
Kids back-to-school

Although I am dreading this back-to-school season because it won’t look like anything we’ve seen or known before, my 3 kids are surprisingly not as anxious as I thought they would be. In fact, they seem to be okay with the proposed hybrid plan that is planned to start in only a few weeks.

I’m sad that we won’t have our traditional stand-by-the-school-bus and take pictures session. Or that we won’t take our traditional walk up to school on the first day, or spend the morning saying hello to parents who we haven’t seen while we went into our summer hibernation. There are so many things that I will miss, but that make me realize a few things as a parent and psychologist that may comfort you as we get ready to enter a fall.

Our Kids May Be Less Anxious Overall About Going Back-to-School

Many of the children, adolescents and young adults that I have been working with throughout COVID-19 have been less anxious. The reason being that there are fewer social pressures that our children would normally face when in school, such as difficulty initiating conversations or maintaining social interactions, or navigating the group dynamics. Our children are not worried about being called on in the classroom and potentially giving a wrong answer. It also doesn’t hurt that our children can also sleep in a little bit later.

Our Kids Can Work at Their Own Pace

Although our children don’t love the idea of being isolated, they don’t mind being able to work at their own pace, take breaks, or enjoy snacks that they would normally not be able to have during the school day. They can spend (more or less time) time on an assignment or break it down over days, rather than feeling the pressure to get it all done within one 40-minute class period.

They also have fewer distractions by social pressures or other students in the classroom who may be finishing the test faster than they are, or the ringing of the school bell. Overall, there may be less sensory stimulation while working at home which is great for our students who struggle to manage all of the input, they are processing all day long. Our kids may actually be less fatigued by the end of the school day.

Our Kids Aren’t as Over-Scheduled

For years, I have supported one activity per child per season. Many of our children and adolescents finish a long and exhausting school day only to keep on going until bedtime. Down time hasn’t been a part of their schedule for years. Many sports and activities may be taking place in the fall; however, the level of intensity for the frequency and duration of practices will not be there.

Without hesitation, the past 5 months have been different, very different. Returning to school in September will also look very different. The good news about back-to-school this year is that our kids are resilient and will adjust. Sometimes, it’s harder for us to accept all these changes, as their parents. Hang in there and share your thoughts with me!


Dr. Liz Matheis


Dr. Liz Matheis is a licensed Clinical Psychologist and certified School Psychologist who specializes in working with children with ADHD, Anxiety, Autism, Learning Disabilities, and behavioral struggles. She is also mom to three children, one with special needs. Her practice, Psychological and Education Consulting, is located in Livingston, New Jersey.

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