Coronavirus - supporting your child's return to school
Every child and young person is different and therefore their reactions to going back to school will be variable. There will be children and young people who will be ok with going back to school and will be happy and excited to be back with their friends. Others may find returning to school more difficult. They may be excited about seeing their friends but worried about how things may be different. They may be worried about being in a new class or school. They may feel sad about being away from their families once more. Some children and young people may be anxious about Covid-19. Some may have had difficulties in attending school prior to the school closures. The important thing is that children and young people need to be reassured that all feelings they have about returning to school (whether they are positive or negative) are normal and accepted.
Practical ideas to support your child:
- Encourage your child to share their thoughts and emotions about returning to school and normalise and validate any feelings they might have. 'Wondering aloud' can be helpful, for example: "I wonder if you're feeling worried about going back to school because you've spent so long at home. I can understand why you would feel like that." Visual resources such as emotional thermometers can help to facilitate discussions.
- Model calmness – your child will take their lead from you and feel more reassured if you are calm when talking about their return to school.
- Provide reassurances - for example, some children and young people may be concerned about leaving parents/carers after having spent so long with them, so remind them that you will be looking forward to seeing them when they return from school and hearing about their day. Giving them a small item that reminds them of you or a note to keep in their school bag during the school day may be helpful to let them know that you are thinking about them.
- Prepare for the return to school – talk to your child about school, for example about new classrooms or key staff, and provide visuals, such as photos, where this is possible. Staff may be able to provide examples of these and/or example transition pack activities to aid these discussions. Talk to your child about the ways in which their school/classrooms may be different; for example, some schools are setting up 'bubbles'. Information about arrangements made by your child's school may be available on the school's website or could be provided by contacting the school directly. Discuss with your child who and where they can go to if they need help from an adult. For some children who will have a new teacher, it may be helpful for the teacher to speak to them before they return to school.
- Establish a clear morning routine at home in readiness for returning to school and consider having a calendar on display, showing the run up to the return to school.
- Be positive and thankful – help your child to think about all the things they are looking forward to when they return to school: being with their friends, seeing staff, school clubs, favourite lessons, etc. whilst being mindful that some of these things may not be available for them at this time.
- Encourage them to think about the things they can do to make themselves feel safer - such as washing their hands with soap and water for 20 seconds; trying to keep their hands away from their mouth, eyes and nose; listening to what the adults in school tell them to do.
- Maintain friendships – support your child in trying to safely maintain contact with their friends before they return to school, for example, through letters, videos, or phone calls. If your child struggles in terms of their social interactions/friendships, it would be helpful for parents/carers and staff to discuss interventions that could be used to support them in school, such as a buddy system.
It is important to recognise that there will be a period of adjustment whilst your child settles back into school. Should you have any concerns about how your child is settling back into school, it will be important to share your concerns with a key member of staff.