There’s no doubt that the past few weeks of lockdown and homeschooling have been challenging and at times emotional, however, there may also have been wonderful opportunities to connect as a family and to watch your children thrive in a new way. Returning back to school after lockdown may be causing some stress and anxiety for you and your children due to uncertainty and another change of routine. So we have put together some helpful strategies to support a positive and successful return to school:
1. Use a weekly planner
If your children are only going to school 1-2 days a week, having a weekly printed schedule on the fridge or somewhere easy to see is helpful for your child to be able to anticipate what is coming. By sticking to this schedule you can help to maintain some predictability throughout the week.
2. Keep morning and bedtime routines consistent
Whether or not your child is going to school or being homeschooled that day, sticking to a regular morning routine will help to maintain some consistency. It will also set your child up well for the day despite what they may be doing. Having a regular evening routine and bedtime will support a good night’s rest and again will provide the consistency and predictability your child needs during this time. This will also make transitioning back to school full time much easier as your child will be used to their bedtime.
3. Talk to your child about what is happening
It is important to not keep your child in the dark about the changes that are happening. Have an open conversation about why they are going back to school and how school after lockdown will look different when they first go back. Your little ones will probably have lots of questions about why their friends aren’t there, why they have different teachers or why their classroom looks different. It is important to approach these questions openly and honestly. Emerging Minds have some fantastic tips for talking to your child about COVID-19 in an age-appropriate way.
4. Expect some big emotions and be ready to tackle them:
It is normal for your child to be feeling all sorts of emotions about going back to school such as anxiety, excitement and maybe even some disappointment that school looks a bit different. With this in mind, it is important to be ready with some strategies to help tackle these feelings when they arise:
- Have something to look forward to after school like a walk/bike ride, some craft, a scavenger hunt, or something fun that your child chooses.
- Put something fun in their lunch box for your child to look forward to at lunch (you can even get them involved in making lunch!).
- Play some fun songs in the car on the way to school to put everyone in a happy mind!
- Validate their feelings and then reassure them that if they continue to feel sad/anxious their teachers are a safe person to go and talk to.
5. Be gentle with yourself
This is a big change for you too and the uncertainty and inconsistency of your week and sending your kids back to school after lockdown may also leave you feeling flustered. Remember to take some time to look after yourself during the day whether this is your morning coffee, a walk or 5 minutes to sit and breathe.