How to ensure your child has a good return to school
For all of us, normal life has been on hold for the last few months due to COVID-19 – now, as we slowly get back to the “new normal”, the question is how we ensure the transition is as smooth as possible.
The regular school day routine may feel like a distant memory after months of home schooling, which is why, in the lead up to September, it’s important to make sure your child is set up for a positive return to school life.
Here are our tips on how to make it a success.
1. Talk openly about how they’re feeling
Moving up into a new year at school can be nerve-wracking for children at the best of times; 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 safely distanced 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 new classmates or feel isolated from their friendship group. Now, as we ease out of lockdown, socially distanced play dates are a good way to build up your child’s social confidence before they join a new class in September.
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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