Ways To Support Your Child Returning to School After Lockdown
The lives of children across the country have changed dramatically this past six months and it’s about to change again..
In a couple of weeks children will be back to school after being home educated for over four months.
As an adult I feel very anxious about the change. It took me a while to adjust to lockdown, so another change could be even more anxiety-provoking for a child.
It’s almost like just as we got into a routine it’s all change again!
UK charity Young Minds recently conducted surveys to investigate the mental health impact of the pandemic on young people who have a history of mental health needs. They found 80% believed the pandemic has made their mental health worse.
The Co-SPACE survey led by experts at the University of Oxford found parents of primary school children reported an increase in their child’s emotional, behavioural and restless/attention span difficulties.
Campaigns Director at YoungMinds, Tom Madders, said about this survey;
“This research suggests many younger children have found it increasingly hard to cope as the lockdown period has gone on, which may be because of loneliness, fears about the coronavirus or a loss of the routines and support that come with school.
Some are likely to have found the restrictions more difficult as time as gone on, while others – including those who find school challenging – may have adapted well to their new reality. For those young people, going back to school after a long break may be tough, and it’s vital there’s a re-adjustment period where well-being’s prioritised.”
Maintaining good mental health is key for all humans, and this pandemic has certainly tested us all. Just before lockdown I explored how to help look after your child’s mental health, which seems more important now than ever.
I’ve noticed my 8 year old’s behaviour became more challenging during lockdown, which was his way of displaying his frustration and fear of being in this situation.
Preparing to Return to School
Many parents and children are excited about schools reopening, but this doesn’t mean this is without anxiety.
My son’s itching to go back and socialise after being stuck alone for months, but we live within a vulnerable household so I’m anxious.
His school will have whole classes as bubbles, but this doesn’t account for those with siblings in other year groups. The risk of catching the virus is going to be hugely increased when he returns to school.
Aside from parent anxiety, children are now used to a different way of life and they know the virus is still out there and their life’s about to change yet again.
It won’t be like it used to be at school, so here are some tips to help prepare them:
- Check in with them: – How are they feeling about going back to school? Have they got any questions you could answer to ease their worries? Let them know it’s OK to feel worried about going back. Reassure them you’re there if they need to talk.
- Create a routine at home to get them back into the swing of things: – Have a set time to be up and dressed in the mornings and a fixed bedtime. Keep mealtimes at the same time each day where possible. This helps children feel secure and safe. Older children might even want to refresh their skills by trying free 11+ practice papers.
- Start talking about social distancing in a school context: – Remind them about 1-2 metre distance and what this looks like in the classroom and playground. Get them to think about games they can play with their friends that doesn’t involve touch. Remind them about hand washing before eating and after play times.
- Explain the changes in school: – Our school has created YouTube videos explaining the new process so we’ve watched them together. It includes temperature checks, different entrances for each class and staggered playtime.
- Reassure them: – Reinforce the message that this is not going to be like this forever. Things will change as the virus dies down and will go back to how they used to be hopefully. This reassurance will help them feel motivated to stick to the current rules.
- Make gradual changes: – Start small if you haven’t gone out much since the lockdown measures eased. Meet up with one friend from school, take small trips outside the home and gradually extend this if they’re comfortable.
- Fun activities: – try to have one to one time with your children, baking, playing outside, science experiments, drawing etc. Anything they can enjoy doing with you that gives them the space to talk without feeling on the spot. They’re more likely to open up if they’re busy doing an activity alongside you compared to a formal chat. This helps you to monitor how they’re feeling in the lead up to school.
- Talk about the positives: – ask them what they enjoy doing at school and who they are looking forward to seeing. Get them to remember the good points of school so they can look forward to it and fear it less.
- Strategy talk-: explain your own worries to them and how you cope with these. Give them examples of your own coping strategies and see if you can create coping strategies for their worries together. Strategies can include exercise, breathing techniques, journal writing and talking to friends and parents.
How Do You Feel?
How are you and your little ones feeling about school?
Feel free to add any other advice to this list below!
This post is not a collaboration with anybody. All opinions are honest and my own and all research has been sourced within the text.