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Back to the classroom: A game plan for reducing anxiety

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Back to the classroom: A game plan for reducing anxiety

Alex and Micqaela of Elko use videos to prepare their daughter Tosawi, before heading back to school.

ELKO — Back-to-school supplies were a bit different this year for 10-year-old Tosawi.

Along with folders and an array of crayons, she also added face masks and disinfectant wipes.

“You never know what will happen,” said Tosawi about starting fifth grade in Elko. “I worry about the new variant of COVID and if my school and class will be affected.”

Tosawi, like many across the country, spent the last school year in a virtual classroom interacting with other students and teachers only via a computer screen. Going back to in-person learning with potential restrictions only added to her anxiety.

“As students prepare to return, they will be facing a host of intensified challenges,” said Anthious Boone, an elementary school principal in Pennsylvania. He cited mask-wearing and learning how to socialize again with peers as some of these challenges.

But parents can help their children with what may be a tough transition.

“As parents endeavor to help their children cope with potential back-to-school anxiety,” Boone said, “it is absolutely imperative that they stay well connected with both the school and their children.”

Tosawi’s parents, Alex and Micqaela, toured the school with their daughter before the new year and reached out to her teachers with questions. They also regularly communicate with Tosawi about potential issues both in and outside the classroom. As Jehovah’s Witnesses, they look for practical Bible-based advice to help with any concerns that may arise.

“We have tried to help Tosawi focus on the positive aspects of school and just take each day as it comes,” explained Alex. “Having an open discussion about school and the pandemic has helped all of us be less anxious.”

While coronavirus variants have stoked pandemic anxieties, this family has endeavored not to overlook other challenges their daughter may face.

One of their favorite resources is jw.org, the official website of Jehovah’s Witnesses, which is free to all. Topics like “What’s a Real Friend?” and “Beat a Bully Without Using Your Fists” are addressed there in a video series for young people.

“[The articles and videos] gave us really simple and balanced information to help us make more informed decisions,” said Alex.

“The videos reached Tosawi’s heart in ways that just sitting down and talking may not achieve.”

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