In a post-lockdown world, school won't look anything like normal, so let's prepare!
Here's what our kids can expect:
- Social distancing
- Different start and finish times
- Areas out of bounds
- Being taught by a different teacher
These can all be causes of anxiety and worry for kids of any age.
So what can we do to help them return to school successfully?
Here are some ideas to use that will help your children feel ready to go back to school.
1. Explain that there will be new routines and rules
It's important our children don't go into school expecting everything to look like normal - only to get a huge shock when they walk through the door.
Explain things will look different - but tell your child not to worry, because the teachers have been thinking about how to make the school safe and will help you get used to the new layouts and routines.
If schools have made photos of classrooms available, share them with your child so they know what the layout will look like.
And it can also be reassuring to talk about the things that haven't changed.
- They'll be dropped off on the same playground
- They'll see the same adults around school
- They'll be wearing the same uniform
- You'll be taking the same route to school
- It will be the same food at lunchtime
And remember to tell them who will drop them off and who will pick them up. Even if this seems obvious to us as adults, it helps gives kids reassurance and a sense of security.
2. Convey calm
It's natural for all parents to have some level of anxiety about returning their child to school.
But however you feel on the inside, it's important to convey calm to your child.
Kids pick up on lots of little clues about how their parents are feeling - and they use this information to inform how they should be feeling. If we look worried, they pick up on this and start worrying too!
So, if you do have concerns, it time to be an actor. However you feel on the inside, aim to convey calm on the outside.
To do this, we need to think about:
- What we say (and what they overhear)
- Our tone of voice
- Our body language
3. Routines for sleep
In most families, routines around kids' sleep have become more... flexible, resulting in a lack of routine throughout everyone's households, but it's time to get that in check!
Begin to move your child's bedtime back towards normality now. Do this gradually, before they get back to school, get the excited about it, whether it be reading a bedtime story, counting down to when they go back to school / see their school friends again. Alternatively, you could treat them to a new pair of Pyjamas featuring their favourite Characters, to get them ready and rearing for an early night in their new, favourite Pj's! After all, a happy bedtime = a good nights sleep!
Everyone has been through an emotional rollercoaster over the last few months - that includes you and your child.
And if you've felt overwhelmed or worried about sending your child back to school, that's okay. It's entirely normal.