Open up the conversation
When talking to your child about the upcoming changes, find a balance between helping your child to understand the situation and not creating undue panic. Talk positively about their return to school and how exciting it will be to reconnect with their friends. To build up the inner excitement of your little one and to continue the conversation each day, you could create a chart to count down the number of days until they return.
- Ask how your child is feeling about returning to school, accept, validate and normalise their feelings. A positive response would sound like, “you’re right, it is a bit nerve-wracking on your first day back, I feel the same when I have had a long break from work. I bet there are other children feeling exactly the same.”
- Share story books (e.g. Ruby’s Worry by Tom Percival and Silly Billy by Anthony Browne) with your child which promote discussions about worries. Encourage your child to share any worries with an adult and forward these onto your child’s class teacher.
Early Years children will need guidance to understand the new school setting. By talking this through in advance it will prevent any surprises which could have resulted in your child feeling confused or scared by the situation. Reassurance will be key as children settle in. To help children feel more comfortable, remind them that there will be lots of familiar faces to welcome them back into school.
- Explain that your child’s teacher and friends won’t be able to give your child hugs as they welcome them back, even though they would love to! On the other hand, let your child know that there will be lots of air hugs and air high fives instead. Take a look at online videos designed specifically for children, which communicate alternative ways to demonstrate friendships.
- Talk to your child about the new systems that are going to be in place at school and explain why the changes have been required, e.g. how drop-off and collection time will be a little different to what they are used to.
- Remind your child about social distancing and let them know that there will be lots of markings on the floor to help them with this. Reassure your child that they will still be able to play with their friends (within their ‘social bubble’ but that they will need to sit a bit further away than usual).
The familiarity of a routine does wonders for children, it provides them with a sense of control as well as satisfaction when completing each stage. There are also numerous benefits for the whole family when a routine that encompasses other family members is established.
- Re-establish a good bedtime routine if things have become a little more relaxed over the lockdown period.
- Encourage your child to wash their hands effectively at frequent intervals and before key moments such as lunchtime. Remind them that they will be asked to wash their hands regularly throughout the day at school. There are lots of songs and rhymes online to help with this, for example – NHS hand washing song.
- Establish a routine ‘family feedback’ time which is a chance for everyone to share any worries from their day, as well as the fun things that went on.
Throughout this journey, everything you can do to make things feel familiar will go a long way for your child’s well-being. The focus on learning at this age will still be fun and include activities such as outdoor adventures as schools continue to lay the essential foundations to a lifelong love of learning.
At The Elms, we have a limited number of Reception places for September 2020. Find out more about joining us in Reception for an excellent independent education.