Talking Points for Conversations with Your Children about Returning to School

As students and their families face a back-to-school transition unlike any other year, families have a vital role in helping their children to prepare for the changes and process their feelings.

We have put together the following considerations and talking points for conversations between parents/caregivers and children based on an article from

1. Explain how your school will be restarting. Share what you can, based on the information your school has told you about how school will restart this fall.

Talking Points

  • Tell me what you think it will be like for you when you get started in school this year.
  • How do you think your school is planning to keep people safe?
    • Here are the people you will see wearing masks…
    • Your school will be having you wash your hands more often and use hand sanitizer.
    • You probably won’t be sharing supplies or sitting close to your friends.
  • If your school is returning full time or hybrid:
    • Your classroom might look like…
    • Lunch and recess might look like…
    • If someone gets sick, they will…
  • If your school will be doing remote learning:
    • You will be learning at home on these days…
    • These are the kinds of learning activities you will be doing….
  • Do you have any questions you want to talk about?

2. Predict and prepare for feelings. Children of all ages will have strong emotions about returning to school, especially since, no matter the plan, school will look different this year.

Talking Points

  • I wonder what it’ll feel like to start school this fall.
  • How are you feeling about starting school?
  • What do you look forward to?
  • What are you wondering about or feeling unsure about?
  • What do you think will feel good and what do you think will feel weird or sad?
  • Do you want to talk about any worries?
  • I’m here for you anytime you want to talk.

3. Acknowledge the uncertainties. Be honest and be there for your child in the discomfort of not-knowing.

Talking Points

  • Here are some things we don’t know yet…
  • We do know that I’ll always be here for you. You can tell me how school feels, and I will listen.
  • It’s hard to not know things. For adults too.

4. Express your confidence in your child, your family, and your school to navigate the upcoming school year successfully.

Talking Points

  • You can do it!
  • I’m here for you every step of the way.
  • I am confident that your teachers and principal want to make this new way of school a good experience for all of their students.
  • We’ll all keep working together to get it right.