How can I help prepare my child for a return to school?
Presently, there is a lot of advice floating around about how best to support your child as they start to prepare to come back to school, some of it conflicting, and can leave you with more questions than answers. However, you know your child best, and are best placed to create the most appropriate environment around your child as we approach the start of school. So to help you, I have pulled together a summary of the more common top tips that seem to be coming from the articles out there (in no particular order):
1. Be careful not to project your anxieties onto your child
As tricky as this may be, this seems to be a really significant point within many of the articles out there. It is okay and understandable to have strong emotions and opinions about your child coming back to school, but be careful not to show or share this with your child as they will be the ones who will be crossing the threshold. If you can, aim to project positivity, reassurance and support of what the school community is doing, and help to de-escalate any anxieties.
2. Talk to your child about how they are feeling about going back to school
They may surprise you! It is very likely they will be feeling a whole range of emotions, from excitement to nerves and all around again. Equally, they may be fairly non-plussed about it all and just wanting things to get back to some degree of routine, and desperate to see their friends. No matter how your child feels, let them feel it and be comfortable that it may be very different to how you may be feeling. Let them know it is normal to feel a range of emotions and that it is very likely everyone else will be feeling that mixture too. We all get back-so-school-nerves at the best of times, teachers too, so remind them of that and that it is perfectly normal.
3. Reassure your child about their safety in school
Please take the time to go through the communications you have had from us about what we are doing to ensure we are all as safe and happy as possible. If you think it is appropriate, then perhaps share with them the relevant messages from school.
Try to get them to visualise and understand what their school routine and day may be like, so they can slowly adjust to it and build that sense of excitement.
4. Encourage them to step out of their lockdown routine and comfort zone
If you have not ventured out of the house much up to this point, then perhaps gradually start to change the environment that your child has become used to, and offer the reassurances they may need as you do this. Perhaps even try to establish some socially distanced play-dates, or help them reconnect with their friends.
5. Establish a routine to help ease the transition back
It would be a good idea to start to re-train their body clocks, so start to think about moving towards their old schedule of bedtimes and morning routines, which should ease the shock to the system!
6. Keep hold of the positives from lockdown
A moment of reflection may also be helpful – what things do you as a family want to take forward as the school routine gets re-established? Thursday night family cycle? Sunday board game teatime?
7. Access support if you feel you need it
If you feel your child is struggling to cope with their emotions, or their mental health has deteriorated and you are worried, then please reach out to us and we will do what we can to support you and your child.
I am a huge fan of Childline and the resources and support available to young people there. They have a really good page on their website, directed at young people, all about going back to school in September, which may be worth you having a look at and steering your child towards should you feel they need it. Childline has a host of other resources on there, such as online counselling or Message Boards that may also be really helpful https://www.childline.org.uk/info-advice/school-college-and-work/school-college/school/
We are confident that once they cross back over the threshold any nerves and anxieties will melt away, but if they don’t and you see a problem building once they are back in school then please do not hesitate to contact us.
Miss Longville, Deputy Head Pastoral