As our students begin to return to school full time, it is important for us to recognise that this may be an anxious time for both parents and children. Change typically brings anxiety, and our school community has been through enormous changes over the past few months.
Our school psychologists would like to share some tips to help parents navigate the return to face to face learning.
1. Be clear about what is happening
Use clear and direct language to describe the return to school, for example, “It is safe for all children go back to school now, so you will be going to school on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday for the rest of the school term.”
2. Let your child be honest
Allow your child to express any thoughts or feelings they have about the return – whether negative or positive, however avoid speaking about these at length or engaging in ongoing discussions as this can actually increase anxiety in your child.
3. Reassure them
Reassure your child that the government has decided that school is a safe place to return to. If anything changes, the school will be told straight away and will be able to tell us the right thing to do.
4. Acknowledge the frustrations
Some children may express frustration at having to go back to the normal routine of attending school 5 days per week, because they enjoyed their time at home with family. Acknowledge that while it was nice to spend that time together, school is now open and all children must go to back to school as usual.
5. Find the good!
Focus on a few aspects of the return to school that your child might be excited about, for example playing with their friends again, seeing their teacher face to face, engaging in sport or physical activities, or even just the reassurance of having a familiar routine.
6. Sort out your mornings
Try to re-establish good morning and drop off routines again—some of our mornings have changed a great deal during this time! Be aware of the school policies around social distancing and how that may impact the way you drop off and pick up your child.
7. Check your own mindset
Be mindful of your own anxiety, and try not to discuss your worries with your child. Instead, speak about this with a trusted friend, spouse or partner, member of your church, or a mental health professional.
Finally, it would be good to have a discussion with your child about some of the routines you may have developed in isolation that have become important to them. For example, if you played a lot of board games, maybe this could develop into a ‘games night’ tradition. Even though this has been a stressful time overall, some beautiful things have happened in families that children and young people may want to hold onto.
If you notice that your child is particularly anxious about returning to school, respected parenting expert Dr Justin Coulson has some extra tips on supporting this transition back to school.
Please don’t hesitate to contact your child’s class or pastoral care teacher, or one of our school psychologists, for extra support if needed.
Rebecca McIntosh & Kirsty-Lee Hammonds
We are taking enrolment enquiries now for next year and beyond. Enquire now to see how your family could become part of our community.