As the fall semester is fast approaching, many parents and kids are grappling with what back to school means in the midst of a global pandemic. Between the normal day-to-day anxieties of dealing with acne breakouts and cramming for tests, kids are also having to think about how to stay safe and healthy. And for some parents, the stress of back to school is even higher if their kid's school is requiring them to head back into the classroom as well as juggle virtual learning.
Rebecca Rigg is one such mom — each of her five kids are getting ready to start the new school year, and their school district is going to be doing a hybrid plan of e-learning and in-person classes. So as a family, they are collectively working to stay healthy, positive, and prepared. "My husband and I just tell them to take it one day at a time," said Rebecca. "We focus on what we do know and what we can control and try to get them excited about different ways of learning."
Keep reading to gather some helpful insights on how Rebecca and her family are prepping for the new school year, and how they're reframing back to school as an empowering experience with a little help from CVS.
Rebecca's five kids range in age from 3 years old to 14, so she truly knows all there is to know about back to school for every age group. Teya, her oldest, is starting high school this year and — like many of her Gen-Z peers — is passionate about politics and government. Next in line at 12 years old is Brinley, who will be heading into 7th grade. She's the artist in the family and loves to sing, dance, play the violin and piano, and draw.
Camden, who will be in 4th grade this year, is the oldest boy at 9 years old, and is a social butterfly — he's always riding his bike, playing water games with friends, and building complex Lego sets. Nori is 6 and going into first grade; her mom says, "She is a vivacious ball of energy and has the most determined spirit of any kid I know! She has the grit of an Olympian and a competitive fire." And last, but not least, Kenai is the baby of the family even though he's now 3. This happy-go-lucky little dude will be starting preschool this year.
It's no wonder Rebecca is up at 5:15 a.m. every morning to get in some me time before the brood wakes up, especially as she's been dealing with the new world of virtual learning. "With five kids in three different schools, virtual learning definitely takes a lot of planning, patience, and flexibility," she said. "We try to write out a schedule for the day but know that sometimes it has to be fluid. The kids really miss seeing their friends and being able to ask their teachers questions when they don’t understand something, but they have been pretty resilient despite some of the frustrations of learning remotely."
All the extra time at home as well as dealing with the challenges of remote learning has given Rebecca many teachable moments that she hopes will carry through as they think about returning to school and beyond. "We’ve really tried to celebrate all their little victories and show them that even when everything isn’t perfect you can still make progress," she said. "They’ve learned so much about time management and good study and work habits. We try to point out the amazing life skills they are learning and show them how much they can do and learn on their own. It has given us so many opportunities to talk about being adaptable, flexible, and finding another way when doors get shut."
Now that the kids are going to be heading back into the classroom part-time (their school district hasn't yet given parents a concrete plan), Rebecca is thinking about ways they can put these learnings into practice and be adaptable — while still being safe. Things like having plenty of mini hand sanitizer bottles in their backpacks help the kids feel more prepared so they can better focus on paying attention in class.
And when anxieties of the time start to bubble up, Rebecca said they try refocus onto things they are able to take personal responsibility for. "We try to focus on the things we can control instead of letting ourselves or the kids spiral into anxiety over all the things that are out of our control," she said. "We can’t control the virus but we can wash our hands, we can wear a mask, we can social distance, and we can exercise, eat well, and take vitamins. We can write letters, have FaceTime calls, Zoom hangouts, and socially distanced get-togethers. We can choose to be grateful and we can choose to be kind."
Rebecca said that alongside nerves about staying safe amidst COVID-19, her kids are experiencing all the classic back-to-school jitters as well. "We definitely have the full spectrum of normal worries, from Teya starting her first year of high school and worrying about acne and boys, to Brinley going back to school for the first time with braces," said Rebecca. "They’re anxious to know if they’ll still have a cross country season and school musicals. Cam is nervous he won’t be in the same class as his friends, and Nori is nervous about her reading skills. Brinley jokes that at least no one will see her braces because she’s wearing a mask! Teya has been armed with great skin-care products to deal with her acne and we bought extra deodorant so the girls can always carry some at school."
When life gets back to a semblance of normalcy, Rebecca said she wants her kids to have become better people because of it. "I’m hopeful that my kids will be able to grow from this experience," she said, "and look back and see it as a time when they faced challenges and became stronger because of it."