Northern Beaches Mums Group
Northern Beaches Mums Group

Preparing your child for re-entry to school after a long, hard lockdown

Returning to school after the extended lockdown may be greatly anticipated and welcomed by some children, but with COVID-19 still posing a threat around the country, it’s undoubtedly set to be an overwhelming time for some children.

With a constant interruption to routines and a general feeling of anxiety lingering in the air, it’s important that our children feel both comfortable and safe heading back into the classroom. Below are some ideas to help you and your child transition back into the school routine.

Talk it through

Your child will most likely have a lot of emotions about going back to school – both positive and negative. Parents and carers should try their best to listen and understand their child’s feelings, even if their worries seem blown out of proportion to our adult ears.

Try asking thoughtful, neutral questions that can help your child reflect on their feelings, such as ‘how do you feel about…’ or ‘what feelings come up when you think about going back to school?’

When they’re finally back in the classroom, make sure to continue this practice by going beyond the expected ‘how was your day?’ Ask more thoughtful questions that will help your child reflect, such as ‘what made you smile today?’, ‘what did you do that was kind to

another?’, ‘what challenged you today and why?’, ‘what did you learn that was new today?’, and ‘did anything make you sad today?’

Tackle the fears into small ‘rungs’ on a ladder

Scary challenges can sometimes feel like we’re climbing a rickety, tall ladder. If your child is feeling overwhelmed by the thought of heading back to school, try drawing out a ladder on a piece of paper, and make note of the difficult tasks your child wishes to achieve when they go back to school on each ‘rung’. Put the simpler tasks at the bottom, and the more challenging ones at the top.

By encouraging your child to focus on and practice the smaller tasks first, they’ll feel more confident and self-assured by the time it comes to the bigger tasks. For anxiety around heading back to school, these could be anything from ‘getting dressed’ to ‘packing my bag’, to ‘making new friends’.

Supporting separation anxiety

Separation anxiety is a natural and common response from younger children and is a normal part of child development. Generally, these feelings tend to ease off after the age of two, as the child eventually learns that their attachment figure will return after leaving them.

However, with children growing used to being around their parents almost 24/7, it is only expected that separation anxiety might flare up when they finally return to school. Thankfully, most children should overcome their separation anxiety within a few days of returning to school.

If your child continues to struggle with being separated from you, consider implementing relaxation techniques that help your child to self-soothe, including deep breathing, a fidget toy, listening to soothing music or looking at a happy photo.

Mindful moments

Mindfulness is an important tool for children of any age to learn, especially when their minds are full of worries that they may not be able to fully articulate. One simple idea for younger children is going for a listening walk, with your child taking the lead and deciding the direction. Simply listen and name what you can hear along the way.

Another technique that works wonders for children and adults alike is the five senses technique, sometimes called the 5-4-3-2-1 method, where you name five things you can see, four things you can touch, three things you can hear, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste. This method is great as it can be done anywhere – perhaps even in the car on the way to their first day back at school!

Delvene Neilson is an experienced educator and has taught at secondary schools across Adelaide and the UK. She is the head of customer success at ClickView, an online education company that provides over 4,500 schools, colleges and universities with access to high-quality, relevant, and interactive curriculum-aligned video resources.

Championed as ‘The Netflix of education’, ClickView’s content is used by over 70% of secondary schools in Australia. New video releases are produced in conjunction with subject experts and Australian teachers and added to the library every six weeks. ClickView has been producing and distributing its innovative and impactful video content online since 2003.