2020 will definitely not be your usual back-to-school, but we are hoping that with the needed precautions and lifestyle adjustments, teachers, pupils and their families will be safe and remain healthy throughout the academic year.
Lockdown during the coronavirus pandemic has brought about a period of enormous change and uncertainty. For children, school closures were sudden, forcing them and their parents to quickly adapt as they faced a long and uncertain period of homeschooling.
As children return to school, uncertainty and the need to adapt to change remains. Social distancing measures may mean that school will be different to how it was before the lockdown. For some, school times may change or they may only attend school two or three days per week. In the classroom, pupils may be divided into smaller groups and socialising may be restricted. It is important to prepare children for this new experience and the challenges it may bring.
Talk to your child about their concerns
Your children may have the usual concerns about going back to school. However, they may also be concerned about the impact of coronavirus and what the school experience will be like.
If your child is anxious or worried, talk to them about the concerns they may have about the return to school. Reassure them their feelings are normal and emphasise that you and their school are making every effort to minimise any impact on their school experience. Let them know that you and their teachers are always available to listen and want to help in any way.
Remind your child of the positives
Many children will have been missing their friends and routine during the coronavirus confinement period. The return to school will be seen as a welcome return to normal for many children. Talk with your child about what they are most looking forward to about going back to school, and remind them of all the positives that school life brings.
Talk to your child’s teachers
Before talking with your child about returning to school, ensure you are fully informed by talking with your child’s teachers about what will stay the same when school resumes and what will change. There may be specific requirements that your child’s school has put in place, which both you and your child need to be aware of and adhere to.
Remember your child’s school and teachers are available to help answer your queries, so don’t be afraid to reach out for that help. Talk with your child’s teachers or school principal if you have uncertainties or concerns about the new school experience.
Prepare your child for what to expect
When you are informed of what to expect and what safety protocols have been put in place by your child’s school, relay this information back to your child in a positive and age appropriate manner.
Ensure your child knows what to expect so there are no surprises. If your child will be required to wear a face mask during school time, let them know. Have them practice wearing the face mask, so that they are comfortable wearing it, and ensure they have an extra supply should they need them.
Putting on a face mask:
- they should wash their hands thoroughly before touching the face mask
- they should ensure the face mask has no holes or tears
- if the face mask has ear loops, they should hold it by the ear loops and put the loops around each ear
- if the face mask has ties, they should hold it by the ties, cover their mouth and nose and tie it securely
- ensuring there are no gaps
- they should be able to breathe easily
What should be avoided when wearing a face mask:
- they should avoid touching the mask while wearing it
- they should not use a wet or soiled mask
- they should not wear a loose-fitting mask
- they should not rest the mask around their neck or on their forehead
- they should not share the mask with other pupils
- when speaking, they should not lower their mask
- they should dispose of the mask safely and hygienically
Remind your child about the importance of hand hygieneReassure your child that the measures which the school has in place are to help ensure their safety and that of their teachers and classmates. Remind them that they too must do their bit to prevent any spread of coronavirus by washing their hands regularly and practicing good cough and sneeze etiquette.
Get back into routine
Keeping a routine may have gone awry during the confinement period. If your child may not have had a set bedtime and getting up time, to help ease the back to school transition, it is important to gradually re-establish routines in advance of the first day of school.
Help your child adjust by setting appropriate bedtimes and waking up times. During confinement, your child may have stayed in their pyjamas for longer in the morning or have become used to morning TV while you tried to address other work and home commitments.
Re-establish a morning routine for your child, which prioritises getting dressed, brushing their teeth and hair and eating breakfast.
Revise some maths, writing and reading
You may have let homeschooling slide for a while. In advance of your child returning to school, help them transition by undertaking some age appropriate reading, maths or writing.
Your child may have concerns about having fallen behind in their studies. Reassure them that everyone has been in the same situation and their teachers are prepared to help get everyone back on track
Keep the conversation going
When school finally does reopen and your child begins to settle into their new routine, ensure that you keep the dialogue going. Ask them how their day has been, and let them know that you are available to address any concerns or worries that they may have. Be sure to check in with their teachers to find out how they are progressing.
The return to school will be a significant milestone for your child, and may present challenges. However, with some advance planning and good communication between you, your child and their school, you can reduce any detrimental impact on your child’s wellbeing and education.
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