Congratulations to everyone for making it through online learning for the last three months! It has not been an easy time for many, and we applaud all families for making the most out of the opportunities to spend time together and embracing a new challenge.
As the restrictions ease, it is time for a welcome but potentially daunting transition. As with any changes to routine, returning to school after extended lockdown may cause stress and anxiety for you and your children. We have put together some strategies and ideas to support you and your child through this transition.
1. Build back in morning and bedtime routines
Routines can help establish normalcy and ensure your child is feeling settled and ready to learn at school. Whether or not your child is going back to school this week or in the coming weeks, start to incorporate “a before school” and “bedtime routines” again. When building in “a before school” routine, look for things that can be completed the night before (packing bags and lunchboxes, finding and laying out uniforms) to help make the transition back to morning routines as smooth as possible.
A regular bedtime routine provides your child with consistency and predictability, which in turn supports a good night sleep for both you and your child. Tips for your bedtime routine include limiting screen time in the hour before bed, setting out school uniform and school bag ready for the next day, and reading or making up stories together.
2. Talk openly with your child about going back to school
Many children may feel nervous about another significant change in their lives and feel uncertain about returning to school. It is essential to embrace the feelings of uncertainty with your child. Have time to sit down with your child and provide them with the opportunity to share their questions about returning to school. As a parent, you don’t have to have all the answers, you can simply acknowledge that this may be a tricky time for your child and reassure your child you are there for them. Talk through what may be the same and different when they return to school to help your child feel settled and prepared for school.
3. Be kind to yourself
Going back to school is a big change for parents; you may feel nervous and flustered stepping into the new routines. Remember it is important to take time out for yourself, going for a walk or run, reading a book, or just taking time to sit with your morning coffee. Find some spots in the day when you can practice your self-care.
4. Prepare for tired kiddies
Returning to school will be a big experience for most children; they will be returning to full days of learning and socializing and will be tired when coming home. When picking up your child from school, try to limit big conversations about homework or what they did throughout the day until they have had time to reset after school. An excellent time for these conversations is after afternoon tea or afternoon playtime.
Build-in some downtime at home after a busy day at school to help your child reset. Depending on your child’s needs, you can build in seated activities or movement activities. Ideas include going for a bike ride or walk, reading a book together, free play in the backyard and puzzles.