The Young Minds Parents Helpline experts share their tips for supporting a child in the transition back to school life.
At present, it is not compulsory for parents to send their child back to school. Deciding whether your child should go back to school is not an easy decision for parents to make. It is important that parents do what they feel is right, comfortable and safe for their entire family.
If you have decided that you would like to send you child back to school, here are some tips on how you can support your child to transition back to school life:
- Talk to your child about how they are feeling about going back to school and try not to make assumptions. Ask them if they are worried or feel scared about anything, but also if they are excited about or looking forward to something. No matter how your child feels, let them know that it is completely normal to feel a mixture of emotions and that everyone will be in the same boat. Have a look at more advice on starting a conversation with your child.
- Provide your child with as much information about their new routine and school day as you can. This will help them to prepare for any changes that have been made to the timings of their day, the layout of their classroom, their peer groups and playtimes. For younger children, it can be really helpful for them to visualise these changes – so ask your child’s school if they can send any pictures to help make things feel more familiar.
- Reassure your child. During the lockdown we have been told to stay at home, remain socially distant from others and wash our hands regularly. This means children may find it difficult to go back to school because it will be a huge change from what they have been asked to do during the pandemic. Talk with your child about ways they can stay safe at school, such as washing their hands before and after eating, and reassure them that the school are putting measures in place to keep them safe.
- Re-establish a routine to help ease into school life. During lockdown it is understandable that your family’s routine may have changed. Children are likely to have been waking up later or going to bed later. To help them get ready for school, try to gradually get them back into their usual morning and bedtime routines as they get closer to their return date.
- Don’t put pressure on yourself. The transition back into school is likely to take some time. Lots of children will experience ups and downs. Try your best to support, reassure and comfort them, without putting pressure on yourself to make sure their homework is done or they settle into a new routine straightaway.
- Think ahead. As well as reflecting on what has happened during the past few weeks, it is important to help children develop hope and a sense of excitement for the future. At a time like this, it can be hard to feel positive, but identifying the things that they can look forward to will help them to realise that the current situation won’t last forever and their feelings will change.
- Seek support if you need it. Transitioning back to school after being in lockdown is no easy task. You may find that your child struggles to get back into school or experiences difficulties while they’re at school. If this is the case, reach out to your child’s school as soon as you can so that you can make them aware of the challenges and work together to support your child. If you are concerned about your child’s mental health and you think they need professional support, speak to the school and your GP about the best next step.