Date : June 2, 2020
Australia is in an enviable position with the coronavirus right now, with the virus being well-controlled – and this means that our kids can go back to school. Over the past few months, our prep or foundation year students have had major disruptions to their schooling and the way they attended classes or interacted with their teachers. Their friendships have been impacted, their routines severely disrupted, and many would have found this an incredibly difficult if not impossible environment in which to learn. As parents, it is now our responsibility to help our little people transition back to school so that they feel safe and happy, and can quickly return to as much of their previous routine as possible. Read on to find out our five great tips for helping your child’s transition back to school!
Supporting their well-being and mental health
Your little prep or foundation year student barely got used to starting school before COVID-19 stopped it in its tracks, so making a whole new adjustment in such a short amount of time can be extremely difficult for them. The easiest way of determining whether your child is having trouble is by paying attention to their emotions. They might feel a wide range of complex emotions that they find difficult to verbalise. It could be a mix of positive and negative emotions that they find tricky to navigate, such as excitement, relief, worry or anxiety. You might notice behavioural changes in your child that are out of character, such as mood changes, sleep changes, changes in eating habits, or in their interactions with family or friends. It’s important to note that all of these reactions are normal, and if you respond with empathy and support, your child will feel safe.
Be aware of your own behaviour
Our kids are like little sponges – if you’re worried about them returning to school, they will worry, too. Be aware of your behaviour and how it could affect your child. Try to remain calm and positive when talking about returning to school, and address any worries you might have out of earshot.
Create a safe space
During the lockdown period, you might have explained to your child that staying home was the safest thing for everyone due to the coronavirus. This might make them anxious about returning to school and whether it’s safe. Encourage your child to share anything that might be worrying them about returning to school – whether they’re worried about catching the virus, or that their friends might not return, or that they’re going to school much sooner than their older siblings. It could be anything. If they feel safe to bring it up in conversation, you can address their worries and help them feel better about it.
Talk to them!
Explain to your child that children do not usually become ill from the coronavirus, and that it’s safe for them to return to school. You can mention that their school will have soap available for them to wash their hands many times throughout the day, and that their teachers will make sure they stay safe. Ask them open-ended questions to gauge their knowledge or what might be worrying them. This will help you to find the right responses.
Routine is key!
Returning to the previous routine will help make the transition back to school a happier experience. Get back into the habit of having special times for going to bed, waking up, and having breakfast. Talk through the routine of what it will be like when they go back to school – ask them what they do when they first arrive, and who they are most looking forward to seeing. Ask them what their favourite things about going to school are, or what they’ve missed. It would also help to talk about what will change when they go back to school. For example, you might not be able to physically walk your child into school like you might have done before lockdown. Many schools are having teachers wait outside for their pupils, and walking them to class themselves.
For more information on education and schooling during this COVID-19 period, check out the May Gibbs site.
Right now, Librarian Bec’s hard at work at your local library, sharing a passion for reading with little people and big. Bec writes about inspiring little readers and embracing lovely literature.