Updated: Aug 19, 2020
In the blink of an eye, schools will be reopening and welcoming their communities back to a new academic year, albeit with adapted systems and revised curriculums. It is inevitable that this year, more than ever, the lead up to this time will be quite the emotional rollercoaster for parents as well as pupils! We’ve compiled some ideas to help you prepare your child (and yourself), supporting a sense of control during these uncertain times. Five key themes are explored:
Sense of safety, calm, self-efficacy, social connection and hope.
1. Create a Sense of Safety
Talking to your child about their worries and the changes that are being made to keep them safe is key in putting their minds at rest regarding the new school year.
Discuss and consider changes to routines e.g. rules on entering school, maybe no swimming lessons.
Discuss how the school/classroom environment may be different. School staff may be able to provide photos or videos so your child can see what school will look like.
Review and practise recommended hand hygiene at home. Remind your children when and why this is important. https://www.tes.com/news/coronavirus-top-5-handwashing-songs-children
2. Create a Sense of Calm
A range of emotions will be experienced by your child/young person before, during and after their transition to school. These emotions should be validated to help them become regulated and calm.
Chat with your child about starting back at school. What do they think it will be like? What are they most looking forward to? Is there anything they’re unsure about?
Once you know their concerns, you can provide them with information and reassurances to help them feel safe at school.
Once school has reopened, maintain these conversations.
Spend quality time doing positive activities with your child. This could be things such as: reading, playing, painting or cooking together. This not only gives your child a break from any worries they have but is also a great way of providing a relaxed space for them to talk to you.
3. Create a Sense of Self-Efficacy
It is important that your child feels a sense of control about what is happening to them. They should feel that their individual actions will lead to positive outcomes.
Create opportunities for your child to make decisions to provide a sense of empowerment and control; something they have lacked these past few months.
Provide extra tasks or roles within the household to give your child a sense of responsibility. E.g. Help write a family planner, decide on weekly dinner menus or assign chores.
4. Provide Opportunities for Social Connection
Your child should feel they belong to their school community and at home you can support this.
If possible, walk by the school and ask them questions – where do they have PE? Where will their new classroom be?
Visit the school website. Are there class pages that you can explore together, discussing some of the activities that they have done or will do in the future?
Set a home-learning challenge for your child to create a brochure/blog/video diary about the school, ready to share with their new class or teacher in September.
5. Promote Hope
Creating and encouraging hope will be important to your child, developing a layer of resilience during uncertain times.
Think about what will be the same when your child returns to school, such as their teachers and uniform. Focusing on this first will be reassuring and help reduce their anxiety.
Help your youngster create a ‘dream jar’, filling it with all of their hopes for the new school year. Spend time discussing the things that they would like to happen or the things that they want to change and then talk to them about how these can be achieved.
Of course, every child is unique so there is no ‘one-size-fits-all' approach to preparing for the reopening of schools. The support needed will depend on a whole host of factors such as personalities, strengths and lockdown experiences. For further information on how to support your child during this time, feel free to contact the HG2utoring team at HG2utoring@outlook.com.