Many children are now starting to return to Nursery, and with the plan for Schools to reopen in September, children face the prospect of a new term after a very long break.
You may find your children are excited and cannot wait to see their friends again, or they could be feeling a little uneasy. As parents, you may be feeling apprehensive about health concerns, or in fact, relieved to have more time if you have been trying to home school whilst working on your job. A juggling act for many!
It is okay to be feeling a mixture of emotions as the ‘new normal’ and way of life begins to unfold, unsure what exactly to expect. The fact is you are all doing a great job and we will continue to support one another to navigate towards the next step… back to School.
Here are a few ideas to help reassure children
Communication: Talk to your child’s school/Nursery about your concerns. As a parent, you must always be open and honest with any of these anxieties you have and get as much reassurance from the School as you need. No question right now is a “wrong question”
– How is your child feeling? I think as adults, we naturally want to protect our children and just want them to be happy. However, children are little human beings with feelings, and just like us as grown-ups, feel various emotions during different times in their lives. It is okay for them to feel worried – talk to them and reassure them about their concerns. Try not to ‘brush it off’ and ignore any emotions they are experiencing. Tell them it is okay to talk and communicate if they are feeling happy, sad, or anxious.
Age-appropriate discussions: It is different explaining the situation we have experienced recently to a ten-year-old, compared to a three-year-old. You want to be open and honest but not scare children. Consider the words/language you use when speaking with them, or with other adults when the children are present.They easily pick up on stress and anxieties from us. For example, you may explain in a little more detail to an older child and the need for social distancing, however, the way you exert this to a toddler will be a lot more age-friendly, using different phrases/terminology. For a younger child for instance you may say; “There is still a bad cold that has made a lot of people feel poorly, so we still need to be careful but it is okay to play at Nursery with our friends now. If the cold gets any worse, we may come home for a little bit again.” This means you are preparing them and being honest, without sounding too serious.
– Reflect on your time at home as positive: Your children may have enjoyed their time home. You could talk about what they have specifically appreciated over the last few months and tell them you can do this more over the weekends/school holidays. For example, they may have loved doing more local family walks, riding bikes more often, or cooking. You can suggest that these can all continue in their spare time at home. During this time, it will not have been all wonderful, and for many parents who have faced job losses/financial restraints, it has not been easy. However, many children will remember the time they had at home with their family making memories.
Prepare for a new routine: I am certain many of us whilst at home have not had quite the same disciplined routine as we usually do during the week. With no early school/nursery drop-offs/evening collections, our days may have become a little more flexible and relaxed. Children tend to adapt to change well, however, for some who have been off since March, it is a long period. Over the next few weeks as we come to the end of the Summer holidays, prepare them for a school return by talking about it and how their days will be different come the Autumn. For example, needing to be a ‘superstar in the mornings and see how quickly you can get you uniform on’. This prepares them for the return to school and they are aware it is happening.
Be creative/imaginative: Some children may find talking about their worries a little more difficult. If this is the case, then perhaps using some form of artwork would be helpful. You could encourage them to draw a picture to show how they are feeling about going back to School/Nursery. Creativity can be a wonderful alternative way to enable children to express themselves, without necessarily using words.
Most importantly… just talk, reassure and nurture: We put a lot of pressure on ourselves as parents, especially over the last few months. If you follow these top tips, I am sure it will support a smooth transition back to school. Although, if some challenges do pop up along the way, don’t see it as a set-back or an error made on your part. Just talk to your children, their teachers, work in partnership together to create the best holistic support for your child in September. Reassure them with your words, actions, and body language. Listen and respect what they have to say, and just provide that nurture and care that I am sure you already do. Children are hugely resilient – I have confidence in things going well for the start of the new term. But every situation is different for each family/child. Focus on yourselves and your situation, the needs of your child, and don’t hold too much focus on what others around you are doing.
Best of luck to you all – You got this! x
Some of you might know Caroline from working at Capture as a digital learning journey expert! Caroline has since moved on from Capture to get a degree. Caroline has also written a children’s book which you can check out here – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Williams-World-First-Day-School/dp/0244668809