It is possible that your child will have mixed feelings about going back to school. They have spent weeks in isolation, adjusting to learning from home and socialising differently. Some young people will have thrived with the reduced pressure of face-to-face learning and socialising. They may be feeling highly anxious at the thought of returning to school. Other children may be excited initially to return, but the adjustment back over days and weeks might be the next roller-coaster you face as caregivers!
Here are some ideas to help the school return and don’t forget to monitor your child’s mental health during this transition.
- Discuss with your child their feelings about returning to school. Reassure them that it is ok to feel whatever they are feeling and that they can discuss any concerns with you, anytime they need too.
- Ask them if they have any questions about returning to school and if they need you to do anything to make the process easier.
REDUCE ANXIETY THROUGH ORGANISATION
- Help your child re-organise their school supplies and make sure they have everything they need.
- Have your child try on their school uniforms, making sure everything fits (we know they can grow quickly!) and clean, press and hang it up ready to go.
- Help your child catch up on any work or skills that they are worried about, but balance this with reassuring them that their teachers will be there to help on their return.
HYGIENE and SOCIAL DISTANCING
- Go through and practice any specific hygiene and social distancing practices you or the school is requesting of your child before they return to school, so they are clear on what to do. This could be practising washing their hands whilst singing, where they are going to sit in class and what games will they play with their friends at lunchtime.
REDUCE ANXIETY WITH YOUR ATTITUDE
If you are positive, this will help your child be positive!
- Get together as a family and reflect on all the positive and challenging things you have learned and done together in isolation. Discuss what you are looking forward to doing as isolation directives change. What are the things you will still do as a family that you didn’t do prior to isolating?
- Ease off pressuring your child regarding their academic output on returning to school. Allow them time to get back into a learning routine.
- Be compassionate and flexible regarding your child’s mood and attitude during their return to school. It may take some time for your child to adapt into their new school routine.
ENCOURAGE RE-ESTABLISHING SOCIAL CONNECTION
- Where possible assist your child/adolescent in connecting with their friends and classmates prior to returning to school.
- When able and safe to do so encourage a play date or social outing with a friend.
- If you child has difficulty with social connection make contact with the school and ask for support and raise awareness with your child’s teacher about the concerns.
- Help you child/adolescent adjust back in to a good sleep routine.
- Prepare health snacks and school lunches with your child. Get them involved in planning and making their school lunch menus, if this is something they enjoy.
- Encourage keeping any physical exercise routines that were useful in home based isolation.
- Help your child remember the aspects of school they enjoy.
- Allow for relaxation and play at the end of each school day to assist your child to unwind and stabilise their mood.
- If there are significant worries or behaviours that your child is displaying regarding returning to school make sure you assist them with how to manage these concerns.
- You may need to enlist the support of the school or a mental health professional if your child is experiencing distressed behaviour, low mood, school refusal or their anxiety is increasing.