1. Talk to them about how they feel
It is important to encourage your child to discuss their feelings about returning to school. This may require a difficult conversation about the pandemic, especially in light of the school’s safety measures. If they feel anxious or worried, help them understand this is perfectly normal, and that you and their teachers are there to support them. Although difficult, try not to share any anxiety you may be feeling with them.
Also try to keep positive by listing experiences your child enjoys at school and is looking forward to returning to. Acknowledge any anxiety your child may have but also acknowledge that they may not have any and that this is okay too.
2. Start a Countdown Calendar
By using a visual countdown, children have a better indication of what time looks like and will be better prepared for when they’re actually returning to school rather than saying in a few days. Also explain that part of transitioning back to school is about only going in for a few days, this may also help students that are feeling a bit anxious.
Additionally to the countdown you may have a visual planner to show them the days they are at school and they are at home.
3. If you have multiple children at the school
You may have more than one child at school at a time in different year levels so it’s also important to let your children know that they may be returning on different days. They may be disappointed that they can’t all go together so try to explain that by only having half the school go back at a time it is keeping us all safe. Please use the template below to visually show your child when they are returning to school and when other year levels are returning. You can print it off, highlight it and put it on the fridge so they again can count down to when the whole school returns.
4. Pack right, pack light
Please pack your child’s pencil case that was sent home with them before the lockdown as they won’t be able to share equipment upon return. Also please talk with your child about needing to wear a hat outside at school now as part of our Sun Smart Policy. The only other things your child will need to pack is their lunchbox and drink bottle as usual and if you would like they can pack sunscreen that they can apply themselves at school.
Any children from year 3 will also need a face mask, we understand that this is going to be difficult as they are not used to wearing one, we hope that if all students in their class are wearing them then they will feel more confident and comfortable with wearing one. If you have any questions or concerns regarding this please contact your child’s teacher or a member of the Wellbeing Team.
5. Make sure they understand the rules
Your school will have also been in touch to explain the various new procedures in place – such as sanitising and hand washing routines. If you haven’t received this information please contact the school office. Make sure you read all school communications with your child and make sure they are prepared, so it is not a shock when they enter the school gates.
It will be important for your child to understand social distancing and hygiene rules and, importantly, why they are in place. This potentially includes being distanced from friends or siblings throughout their school day, which may be hard to understand but important to accept.
6. And make sure you know the rules too
You’ll need to know where and when to drop them off and pick them up, as well as what parts of the school you can access.
Your child will be eagerly expecting you at collection time, so make sure you, or whoever is collecting them, are there for them, in the right place at the right time.
7. End of day emotions – don’t push them
For younger children in particular, a school day can require a lot of self-regulation or compressed behaviour, which can lead to tired and emotional outbursts later on in the day. Please reach out to the Wellbeing team if you need some additional supports or suggestions in managing your child.
It is a good idea to keep this in mind, and allow for some ‘letting off steam’. Your instinct may be to ask about their day, but be aware that your child may prefer to simply unwind and process first.
8. But stay informed
Given the long absence from school, there may be a difficult period of readjustment. There may be fresh challenges for your child, from working with new classmates and teachers, to coping with their work and observing the rules.
Try to stay informed about how they are getting on – but if you are concerned, contact your child’s classroom teacher via email and they will email or call you back.
9. Keep an eye on their online time after lockdown
Our children have been online a lot during lockdown, not just for learning purposes but also for socialising for example gaming, facetime, google meets, emailing etc. It’s important to start to reduce the hours they are now on devices as they can do a lot of this communication at school.
Talk to your children about what they are playing or accessing online. If you are unsure, Google what the game is about or download it yourself to gauge what content your child is accessing. Most games now also have chat spaces where you can talk with strangers online, have conversation with your children about the risks of talking to strangers online to ensure their safety.
Also talk to children about their digital footprint when using Apps like TikTok, Instagram, SnapChat etc. Once it’s uploaded, even if you’ve deleted it, it may be on the web forever. Googling images or showing GIFs are great examples of how everyday people showing ‘funny content’ can be uploaded for the world to see forever once shared.
10. And get some rest…
Your family may have been getting used to some rather unusual hours during lockdown and that may have extended into the holidays.
Make sure they are getting a good night’s sleep for their return to school. It might mean introducing some earlier bedtimes than they have had recently, but a good night’s rest will help them cope with the return to school and the new routines they will be adapting to.
Reference – Parent Info from CEOP and Parent Zone – https://parentinfo.org/article/returning-to-school-7-tips-to-help-your-primary-age-child-cope