Helping your child return to school
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It doesn’t matter whether they’re in early years or looking forward to university, it’s important to support students returning to school on March 8.
With the lockdown roadmap confirming that schools will reopen on March 8, parents have just over a week left to prepare both children and themselves for the return to the classroom. While some will be heaving a sigh of relief to see the end of home schooling, there’s no question that a little preparation will make the return to “normal” education much less stressful – for everyone.
So what can you do to prepare your child for going back to school? And how can you support them as they get back into the routine of getting up and getting out in the mornings? Here are five simple things you can do to help make it easier for them.
Start talking about it
You probably already have. The important thing is to stay positive but try to provide as much information as you can: what time you’ll all be getting up, when you’ll be leaving the house, going over the way they’ll get to and from school (whether walking, taking a school bus or being dropped and collected).
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If you haven’t received a message from the school, check the website for information – you can do this with your child as a learning activity – so they know as much as possible about what to expect when they arrive.
“Read the reopening plans for your school and make sure your child has a mask to wear,” urges Lucy Austin, head of school at Hewitt Academy. “Please share with your child the importance of following the rules and social distancing.”
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“If parents have any concerns, the best way to resolve them is to communicate with your college or school,” says Dr Catherine Richards, principle of East Norfolk VI Form College in Great Yarmouth.
Really listen to them
Some children will be eager to get back in the classroom but others may be anxious, especially those who had only just started a new school before lockdown.
They’re all likely to have some concerns, so encourage them to talk about them, take them seriously and offer reassurance – but be honest if you don’t have all the answers. Be positive and remember to keep talking about what to expect and find things they can look forward to at school.
“It is important that students are helped to manage their expectations about what it will be like,” says Alex Wallace, the wellbeing team leader at City College Norwich. "They should familiarise themselves with the current Covid safety measures - for example that everyone will be wearing masks in classrooms."
Get into a routine
Try to spend the week before March 8 getting back into the swing of things, so setting out from home on the big day is not a stressful shock to the system. Make sure students are in bed at a reasonable time and, if they’ve been getting up late, try rousing them a little earlier every day to get them ready for March 8.
Cut them a little slack
It’s important to make setting off for the first day as unflustered as possible. Try to anticipate problem areas (like packing the school bag) and fix them ahead of time – don’t leave it to the child to do it.
“Lay out the uniform a couple of days in advance so you know if there’s anything you need to get washed or to find before the morning alarm rings,” advises Summer Turner, head of school at Jane Austin College.
Don’t worry if – just this once – hair isn’t brushed or breakfast isn’t cleared away in the rush to get out the door. Make allowances and send them off with a smile.
Welcome them home
Most children will want to talk about their first day back – and it’s important that they do. Give praise for making the transition back to school. Get them to tell you about the new school routine and be positive about how washing hands, social distancing and other measures can keep everyone safe.
If students do raise any areas of concern, try to reassure them and stress that the next school day will be even better. "Make sure they know how they can get support from their school or college,” advises Alex Wallace of City College Norwich.