Making Back to School stress-free this September

Supporting your child’s transition back into the classroom in a Coronavirus world.

Getting back to school can be nerve-wracking at the best of times and returning to school in 2020 will certainly be a strange experience. On the 19th of August BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour discussed the impact of lockdown on the mental health of children and supporting their emotional and mental wellbeing going forwards. We summarise some of the key points from the discussion and give some of our own tips on easing the transition back to school.

Listen to the Woman’s Hour episode here , the relevant discussion with Barnardo’s Amanda Naylor and child psychologist Angharad Ruthkin begins at the 20:45 mark.

Children & Mental Health:

  • A new survey by Barnardo’s has revealed that over a million parents feel their child would benefit from professional help following the coronavirus lockdown. Read about the results here
  • Younger children often don’t hold back from expressing their emotions, however less obvious signs of distress to look out for include: tearfulness, appetite changes, acting withdrawn or changes to their sleep patterns.
  • Older children have also had a difficult time with exam results, being unable to see their friends and losing the freedom that they value so much as they mature.
  • Barnardo’s have launched their new See, Hear, Respond Support Hub which is full of information, resources & tools to support your child’s emotional wellbeing

Preparing your child for the return to school

  • Children often reflect our own emotions back to us, for this reason it is important to be positive when speaking about the return to school. Even if you don’t feel confident about your children going back to school, try to act as if you are and avoid emphasising the risks of the virus to them.

Tip: try to smile when talking about going back to school and adopt a light-hearted tone when discussing topics such as handwashing and hygiene protocols at school.

  • Explain that in many ways school will be different to what they are used to and that there will be new rules to follow so that they are emotionally prepared.
  • Ask your child if they have any questions about going back to school and try to answer them as fully as possible, uncertainty can be a huge factor for anxiety so try to alleviate any worries they have. If there’s a question you don’t have the answer to – for example something Covid related – see if you are able to contact the school for more information.
  • Try to re-establish routines around mealtimes and bedtimes, for example starting to eat breakfast at the time you would on a school day and if possible, walking past the school building on a walk with your child.
  • Read books with your child about going back to school.

Top picks: Never Take a Bear to School (Ages 5-7), The Boy at the Back of the Class (Ages 7-11), Mae’s First Day of School (Ages 4-7) and I am Too Absolutely Small for School (Ages 3+).

  • Make the start of school more exciting by allowing children to choose a new schoolbag, lunchbox or pencil case.

Preparing yourself for the return to school

  • Discuss any worries you have about the return to school with your partner, friends & family rather than in front of children. It’s natural to have worries but also essential to remain optimistic and hopeful when talking to children.
  • Get yourself organised! Now is the time to sort out school uniforms, school shoes, lunch boxes etc.

Tip: find out what your school’s regulations will be around lunchtimes, drop-offs and collection. It is likely that these will look very different to previous years.

  • The evening before: lay out their school uniform, pack (or help them pack) their school bags and prepare as much of their lunch as you can to ensure an easy morning where you can get out of the door on time.
  • Make your life even easier by hiring an After School Nanny who can take care of the school run and the after school hours too.

Tip: don’t forget, some of our nannies are happy to work before school too. Use our search filter to find suitable candidates if this is something you need in addition to the after school hours.

Wishing all of our families the very best for the new academic year.

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