• Stuart Benson

How to plan for scholastic success during COVID-19

Connexions’ resources and support services for parents, children and families


By Natalie Filiou


It can be especially stressful for our children and ourselves now that we are returning to school during COVID-19. Here are a few tips from Connexions Resource Centre to help you plan a successful school year for your child or youth:


Encourage your child to stay connected with their school peers and friends. This could involve connecting outside in safe ways, meeting virtually or even becoming pen pals.


As you gradually get into the school routine, make sure your child gets enough sleep. Set a bed and waketime that allows for nine to 11 hours for children five to 13 years old and eight to 10 hours for youth 14 to 17 years old. You should also make sure to pause the screen an hour before bedtime. Staring at a phone, computer or television screen can interfere with a good night’s sleep. Some useful PAUSE (time away from technology) strategies can be found here: http://bit.ly/3lTLd9s.


Consider posting a family calendar with your school year schedule that includes their wakeup, departure time, when they get back home, homework time, supper, free-time, downtime and bedtime.


Make sure to normalize mask-wearing by buying a child-friendly mask or, if making the mask, using a pattern of their choice. Ask them to wear a mask when they are distracted (watching television or playing a video game) or doing their favourite activity (listening to music or reading a book).


For children who are anxious about starting school during COVID-19, practice calming strategies like deep breathing exercises (bit.ly/3b9ptkX), going outside or even colouring quietly. You can also offer your child some calming tools, such as stretchy string or lavender-scented playdough.


To further help your child cope with back-to-school, make sure to stay connected with them. Spend quality time together, listen to what worries them most and make sure to validate and empathize with their myriad feelings.


Let your child or youth see you model healthy coping strategies during this time and to attach positive meaning to the pandemic despite the difficulties it has posed. More time at home with parents and siblings and valuing a simpler life have had benefits for many busy families.


Make sure to stay on top of the latest back-to-school information published by the Government of Québec (http://bit.ly/2YMN85p) and the WQSB (westernquebec.ca). You can also visit Connexions’ COVID-19 webpage for the most up-to-date Government of Québec reminders and directives (http://bit.ly/3hLCfZ8).


Asking for help is hard, but you don’t have to face things alone!


Take a peek at this list of resources and support services put together by Connexions Resource Centre to help you reach out:


Crisis services for parents and youth

If you are in crisis or have suicidal thoughts:

  • Call 911 or go to a hospital emergency room

  • Call the suicide prevention line at 1-866-APPELLE (277-3553)

  • Call Info-Social at 811, press option 2 to speak with a social worker 24/7

  • Call the Distress Centre of Ottawa and Region 24/7 at 613-238-3311


Non-crisis helplines for parents

If you need emotional support or are feeling low or sad:

  • Talk to someone you trust, like your spouse, a family member or a friend

  • Call the LigneParents helpline at 1-800-361-5085

  • Request help from Priorité Parents: fqocf.org/parents/priorite-parents-en

  • See your doctor to discuss your options for support


You can also find mental health resources and tools on the Connexions website for women (http://bit.ly/32Coi9x), men (http://bit.ly/3lDiB4b) and young families (http://bit.ly/3b9ptkX).

Non-crisis helplines for youth

If you need emotional support or are feeling low or sad:

  • Talk to someone you trust, like a family member, friend or a guidance counsellor

  • Call the Tel-Jeunes Helpline at 1-800-263-2266 or text 514-600-1002

  • Call the Kid’s Help Phone (ages five to 20) at 1-800-668-6868 or text CONNECT to 686868

  • See your doctor to discuss your options for support


You can also find mental health resources and tools on the Connexions website for youth (https://bit.ly/2Dy3cAH).


Know your legal rights and responsibilities? Find out with Éducaloi!

Éducaloi has several online legal information guides and resources for parents, youth and even teachers. Here are a few examples:

  • Legal information specific to youth (http://bit.ly/32zYHhK)

  • Bullying and the law – what you need to know (http://bit.ly/3baqGZ8)

  • Sexual assaults – reporting, getting help, remedies (http://bit.ly/2YMl3vo)

  • Teens in trouble with the law: what you need to know (http://bit.ly/2QE0exs)

  • LGBTQ+ (http://bit.ly/2EI9ldU)

  • Women’s health guide (http://bit.ly/34K7pwp)


Do you need help accessing health and social services in English? We can help! Connexions Resource Centre is a not-for-profit community organization whose mission is to serve and promote the health, well-being and vitality of the English-speaking population of the Outaouais. You can call us at 819-557-0537, email us at info@centreconnexions.org, follow us on Facebook @connexionsresourcecentre and visit our website at centreconnexions.org.


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