The first parent-teacher conferences of the school year are coming up, if you haven’t had one already. These meetings can create stress, as you may be alerted to academic or behavioral challenges with your child that you were previously unaware of. It’s important to know that this type of feedback is extremely common for fall conferences, as children are in a new environment with different classmates and a new teacher.

This year, across all grade levels, the normal back-to-school transitions are more complex as children are adjusting to being back in the classroom with a larger number of other students. There is increased competition for teacher attention, waiting time is longer, social dynamics are back in play, and on top of everything, students are adhering to many new health and safety protocols.

These changes are particularly difficult for the youngest students whose first year of elementary school may have taken place on Zoom or with limited in-person learning. They didn’t have an opportunity to practice the basics—such as turn taking, following directions, or self-help routines—which may affect learning and behavior this year. Another fallout from the pandemic is that many parents kept their children home instead of attending school in person where readiness for the next grade includes preparing for that transition.

Fortunately, many learning or behavioral concerns can be rectified over time and with the consistency of the daily school routine. Adjust your expectations and give yourself and your child a break. Fall parent-teacher conferences can be tricky even in a normal year, and this year we’re coming off of a long 18 months of stress and anxiety for everyone.

So hang in there, parents! Your children are happy to be back in school and the social-emotional benefit of in-person learning is invaluable. There just may be a bit of an adjustment that parents and teachers can overcome together!