How to ensure your child has a good return to school

After even more months of home schooling, the regular school day routine may feel like a distant memory.

Here are our tips on to making sure your child is set up for a positive return to school life.

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1. Talk openly about how they’re feeling

Returning to school even after a break of the normal length can be nerve-wracking for children; after so long away, school may seem even more daunting. Ask them what they’re excited about, as well as what they think will be different or hard.

They may also worry about resuming normal life while coronavirus is still an issue so you should discuss the steps you’ll take as a family to keep everyone safe. It’s important not to dismiss any irrational fears about the virus that they might have heard or invented – instead, acknowledge their anxieties and then counter them with reassurances based on scientific fact.

2. Reflect on the positive outcomes of lockdown

Shift the focus of your child’s hobbies (either old or new) onto how they can keep them up once they’re back at school. However they’ve spent the past few months – whether reading, painting, dancing or doing puzzles – see if there’s an equivalent school club.

Ask your child to write or draw something showing what they’ve done over lockdown – highlighting what they’ve achieved in a wider sense will boost their self-esteem, especially if they’ve struggled to keep up academically over lockdown.

3. New back-to-school kit for a fresh start

Following this period of blurred lines between school and home, getting new school equipment, such as stationery or school shoes, can be a good way to make your child excited about learning and to mark a new chapter. It will encourage them to think about what they’ll need and visualise how they’ll spend their days once they’re back at school.

4. Ease back into a morning routine

Without the need to get to school on time every day, it’s normal for morning routines to have become more lax. In the lead-up to the start of school, slowly incorporate punctuality back into your routine so that the first day back isn’t a total shock to the system. Perhaps one day practise getting out of the house on time and doing the journey to school – it’s sure to relieve some anxiety you all may have about the big first day back.

5. Encourage phone or online time with friends

School isn’t purely about academia; developing social skills and fostering friendships is also hugely important. The absence of face-to-face peer interaction over lockdown is an unfortunate knock-on effect of COVID-19. Your child may be worried about meeting classmates again, or feel isolated from their friendship group. In the absence of being able to meet up face to face, build up your child’s social confidence by encouraging them to get in touch with friends by phone or online.

6. Give your child time to readjust

Long hours, concentrated learning and interacting with others in a school environment is much more tiring than being at home, so try not to push them too much at the beginning. As parents, you’ll naturally be eager to know how everything is going; however, asking, “How was your day?” can feel like an enormous question to answer. Try to frame your questions a bit more i.e. “What was the best/funniest/strangest thing that happened today?” in order to start a dialogue.

In summary, with a thoughtful approach – using some of the suggestions above – your child’s return to school should become a positive experience for the whole family.

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