Going back to school during a pandemic is a new experience for everyone, and it's understandable if children are feeling anxious about it. We take a look at some of the issues and how you can help your child to get ready for returning to the classroom.
The return to school after the summer holidays usually involves reentering a world with familiar, easily recognisable routines. If your child is worried about going back to school, use calm words and confident actions to let them know them that it's safe.
Try to find out precisely what is worrying them. Is your child anxious about catching or spreading the virus? Or are they concerned about the changes in the daily schedule caused by the pandemic? As schools make the changes necessary to adapt to COVID-19, your child may be worrying that they will inadvertently break some of the new rules. Reassure them that it doesn't matter if they don't get it right all the time. The situation is unprecedented for teachers, students and parents and everyone will learn together.
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We all need certainty in our lives, and that's in short supply at the moment! No one can predict what is going to happen next. Schools are now open, but if infection levels rise again, year group "bubbles "or even the whole school might have to return to self-isolation for a while.
Use familiar events to explain these uncertainties to children. For example, they might remember that their school closed previously during an outbreak of Norovirus. But everything soon went back to normal and eventually, it will do so again.
Try to create fair but firm boundaries for your children, establishing a routine that limits screen time and prioritises good sleep. Enjoy a family mealtime together whenever possible. Try to be honest, and if you don't know the answer to one of their questions, don't be afraid to say so.
If a young child has been at home with you for several months, it's only to be expected that they will be experiencing some degree of separation anxiety at the idea of going back to school. It's your job as a parent to help them cope with their worries. We often underestimate how much young children are aware of stress and anxiety in the adults around them, so try to project a pragmatic, calm and accepting attitude. If you're feeling worried and finding it hard to hide your stress, Bach Flower Mix 85 can help to support your own emotional well being and reduce anxiety levels.
Try to discover exactly what your child is worried about. Talk to them or get them to write down the things that are worrying them most. It might surprise you: things which worry children might seem relatively insignificant to parents and vice versa. The idea of doing something in the future often causes more anxiety than the event itself. Create a step by step plan for returning to school and offer a treat as an incentive for taking those worrying first steps.
As a parent, you may be feeling anxious that your child has fallen behind academically and wondering if they will ever catch up. Whatever your own feelings, remember that your child will learn best in a calm, peaceful and reassuring environment. All children learn differently: while some may respond well to extra coaching, others will benefit from a more relaxed approach. If your child is finding it hard to concentrate after a long break from studying, Bach Flower Mix 55 promotes concentration and helps with hyperactivity.
Fears about returning to school are often as much about friendship groups as theta re about lessons. During the lockdown, children were unable to meet their friends for months. And moving into a new class or even a different school can also mean having to develop a new friendship group. If your child finds it hard to form new relationships, be ready to support them by setting up play dates or after school activities.
After school, chat with your children about what you've been doing; this creates space for them to talk about their own worries. Some children naturally love to talk about the events of their day while others may confine themselves to one-word answers to your questions. Whichever sounds most like your child, always listen to them carefully. Pause to reflect and then rephrase what they said, so they know you understand how they are feeling. This process can be hugely effective in allowing children to accept challenging situations and move forward in their lives.
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