SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WHSM) -- The news is setting in after Gov. Charlie Baker announced students will not be returning to their classrooms for the rest of this school year.
Concerns about the social and mental health impact of this decision has many parents asking what they can do to help.
Western Mass News spoke with a counselor who said families are full of mixed emotions right now, but it’s important to have some kind of routine for kids at home.
“They really miss their friends and their teachers,” said Sara Moriarty, a parent of three.
Like many parents, she is juggling working from home and making sure her three kids get their school work done.
“It’s a mix of emotions. I think they kind of feel like a little bit excited, like almost it’s summer break, but my younger two are starting to hit an emotional wall with being stuck at home and are dealing with a little bit of regressive behavior,” Moriarty said.
Baker announced Tuesday all schools in the state will remain closed for the rest of the school year due to the coronavirus leaving many parents wondering how they can help their kids through this transition.
Western Mass News spoke with River Valley Counseling Center’s Director of School-Based Clinical Services, Alexa Mignano.
She said parents and kids tend to suffer from anxiety over things they can't control.
“If you were able to look for moments where you were able to increase your child’s sense of control over things that are happening during your day, that can help reduce their anxiety,” she said.
She said one of the best ways to help kids at home is to come up with some sort of schedule and a healthy meal.
“I try to establish a routine, a schedule of some sort. For younger children, I would recommend doing a schedule that’s a little more rigid, and as they get older, you know, make it a little bit more loose. Pay attention to their nutrition, to sleep, to movement during the day. Get kids moving,” she said.
If children are starting to miss their classmates or friends they used to see at school and around the community, Mignano has an answer.
“Focus on doing something that connects to people. It seems easy to jump on video games and connect that way with our friends, but I think if you could help your child, you know, do video chatting,” Mignano said.
She said talking to kids openly about what’s going on in the world and why they are forced to stay home is important.
“Shift from saying, ‘We are stuck at home’ to ‘We are safe at home,’” she said.
For parents like Moriarty, they are doing their best to get used to the new normal.
“It’s a lot to try to manage everyone’s school work. Obviously the different ages and levels of schoolwork is a lot to manage,” she said.
For those with a child having a tough time, River Valley Counseling can help.