After a long period out of the classroom, your child might need support to ensure they have a happy and successful return to school on 8th March. Here are some tips to help them:
1. The over-riding emotion for most children about returning to school is excitement – most will be over-the-moon to be with their friends and teachers again but they might also feel anxious or other negative emotions. Children often feel a little worried about change and returning to the classroom after two and a half months is a big transition for them. Ask them how they are feeling, using open-ended questions – for example, instead of asking a yes/no question such as, “Are you feeling happy about going back to school?”, try “How are you feeling about going back to school?” If you feel they might be anxious but they do not want to talk, offer them the opportunity to draw, role-play or ‘talk through their toys’ – making it a fun game is less pressured for them.
2. Many children will have experienced changes to their usual sleep routine whilst learning from home so, ideally a few days before, start edging your child back to their usual ‘school’ sleep routines.
3. Encourage them to practise getting up and out! School starts at a set time and they need to be ready to leave the house at a certain time. Many children (including my own!) will have spent a lot more time in their pyjamas over lockdown, with far fewer time constraints.
4. At school, children are encouraged to wait until the teacher has finished talking with another child or adult before speaking. They also need to share the resources and toys with a large group of others. This might be a very different situation at home where they perhaps have your full attention and only have to share their toys with siblings, so help them remember to wait their turn if you are talking to someone else and to share their toys.
5. At home, you might help them more with getting dressed. At school they are expected to change for swimming independently so reminding them to dress and undress on their own as well as keeping their things organised are great ways of preparing your child for school again.
6. Not all children sit cross-legged at home – they will often kneel or crouch instead. In school, during carpet time, children are asked to sit cross-legged so that the children behind them can see. Encourage your child to sit cross-legged for short periods – maybe make it fun by playing a game on the carpet with you both sitting crossed-legged!
7. If you are worried about how your child is going to transition back into the classroom, contact your teacher so they are aware. The more we know, the better prepared we are to support your child.
8. Bear in mind how you are feeling about them going back to school. You might be relieved as you know the best place for them to learn and socialise is at school but you might have safety concerns or separation issues after so long with them at home. Look after your own emotions and this will positively impact on your child and their feelings about returning.