5 Gentle tips to prepare your child for school

How to ensure a smooth transition from Covid to Classroom.

School is back! But how are we really feeling about our kids heading off into the new world of learning?

Going back to school after all these months may fill our minds (and our children’s) with an array of emotions. The country’s lock-down measures are soon to be lifted and our children will be swapping the safety bubbles of home to fixed bubbles within their classroom. Parents are not just concerned about the risk of Covid-19; now many parents are starting to feel worried about how their children will adapt to the new practices and social distancing measures.

As a parent myself, I have these anxieties, but as parents, we need to go easy on ourselves; as this new normal is going to take some adjustment. The return to school is going to be like learning at home. At first most of us panicked, after all it was a big transition, but we coped. Heading back to school will be a similar process – it will take us some time to adapt, but we will adjust and within weeks we will be asking ourselves, what we were all worried about… 

In the meantime (to settle everyone’s nerves), here are some gentle tips to prepare children (and parents) for the classroom return. 

Go easy on yourself. 

Change often creates anxiety but it’s important not to show our worries in front of our children. If they see us wobble they may start wobbling themselves. However, go easy on yourself and ride the tide of emotion, try and remember a lot of parents are feeling this way and you will start to adapt and feel better about the new normal soon. 

But in the meantime, what can be done to ward-off your worries?

Think positive. Try thinking on the bright side of life, you no longer have to juggle an array of responsibilities, as well as having the large burden of your child’s academic development on your back. Small groups in schools might impact a positive change in the school system and children may find they learn better in these smaller environments. The small groups and new cleaning rules (in schools) will also have a positive effect on hygiene. What does this mean? Well, hopefully, it will wipe out most of the common winter bugs we are often familiar with. This could be a real game-changer in schools, keeping attendance high in the winter months as well as helping us ‘all’ to stay germ-free this winter! Also, think how happy our little people are going to be when they can laugh, learn, and play with their friends. The school routine is good for them (and you) mentally and will help establish more certainty in their ‘new normal’ lives. 

Chat with your child 

Remember change is not only stressful for you it can also impact your child’s feelings. Preparation is key in helping ease your child’s mind. Encourage your child to talk about any feelings they may have about returning to school and be prepared for any questions that may arise. I’ve put a list together of questions to be prepared for, knowing the answers or talking to your children about these topics in advance will help your little person feel more secure and prepare them for their first day back. Talking through the start of school is essential for children, it helps them overcome their anxiety-provoking thoughts and feelings and creates a sense of calm. 

Questions to be prepared for:

How will I get into school – will one of my parents be able to come with me? 

Find out the school’s policy for drop off and pick up and make sure your child understands and knows they are safe. 

Will someone help me with my lunch box and bags?

Find out if the teachers (in younger years) will help carry PE and lunch boxes.

Where will I eat my lunch? 

Again, ask the school for their policy. And explain lunch time plans to your child.

Can I play with other children from different classes – who is in my bubble? 

Find out the school’s rules and what bubble your child is in. 

What do I wear?

My little boy must wear his PE kit to school. Some schools are wearing uniforms, some are non-uniform. Talk to your child about what they are wearing before school, so it doesn’t shock them on the day. 

Will I have to wash my hands all the time?

Find out the school’s sanitizing/ hand washing policy.

What do I need to bring?

My son needs to bring his own stationery. Make sure you read all the documents sent by your school – I nearly missed this! 

What do I do if I’m worried? 

Find out who the best person for your child to talk to is – Teacher, TA, Lunch-time lady. I always opt for the person I feel is the kindest. 

Brag about the benefits. 

Children will feel anxious but making them remember what they loved about school can help get their little feet back through the door. Talk about friendships, and how much they have missed playing with their buddies. Chat about their favourite games, stories, or even the classroom pet. Remind them what they used to love about school and keep them happy memories at the front of their minds.

Introduce a new routine early 

Most of our routines have become somewhat relaxed over the lockdown period. It may be helpful to start introducing a new bedtime routine and waking up times in preparation for the new school day. The last thing you want to be doing is rushing around like a mad woman (or man) on the first day of school. Preparation is key. Building a little structure into your day before the return of school is the perfect way to prepare little people. Maybe set breakfast at a certain time, then brush teeth and get dressed. Mid-morning you could revisit some of the topics your child learnt over lockdown or practice phonics to get them back into the swing of learning. You could also plan lunch for a set time, followed by afternoon games and finish off with a relaxing bedtime routine. Our bedtime bubble bath is perfect for preschool nerves. It’s blended with gentle organic ingredients and calming essential oils that soothe a child’s nervous system, which-in-turn, eases anxiety and creates a sense of calm.  

https://www.hollandandbarrett.com/shop/product/mumma-love-organics-kids-bedtime-bubble-bath

Make ‘back to school eve’ special…

The day before school plan a special day to take their minds off going back. Maybe make a picnic, go for a walk in the woods, or meet up with friends. This will help children feel more comfortable, grounded, and relaxed. When you get back, ask them to get involved in packing their school bag, making their lunch box, and preparing their breakfast for the next day. Making them feel involved will help them feel more in control of the situation. Once done, maybe finish off with a family movie and then a few extra cuddles before bed – this will allow them some more time to talk through any more concerns they may have. I think it’s important to remember we are all in the same boat, and our feelings no matter how big or small are perfectly normal. We got this! 

Good luck, Love Samantha xxx 

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