As schools reopen around Australia, some children might be struggling with going back while others can’t wait to get back into the classroom.
Unexpected changes and uncertainty can be difficult for both children and adults. It’s important to recognise that everyone reacts to change differently. It can be helpful to acknowledge both your child’s feelings as well as your own.
Here are some ideas and suggestions about how to prepare for and manage this ‘new normal’ as your child returns to their educational environment.
Remember that transitions are hard for everyone
- Be kind to yourself and others.
- Talk to your child about the routine and plans for their return.
- Talk to your child about what they can expect from their teachers and friends, and what changes there may be.
- Remember that children will pick up on small changes/differences. Be prepared for their reactions and behaviours resulting from these changes.
- Check in with their teachers to let them know how your child managed over the isolation period so they can be prepared to think about how best to support your child.
- Be honest with your child in a child-friendly and age-appropriate way to help them understand what is going on.
Children will feel safer when connected to others
- Be calm and engaged with your child to help ease their anxiety and anticipation for their return to kinder.
- Start a discussion with your child about what they might be excited or anxious about.
- Be prepared that the morning routine (before school or kinder) might take a little longer than usual as your child may feel many different emotions. They may take time to express how they are feeling and need your reassurance.
- Remember that all behaviour is communication. Be open and curious to what your child brings you through their behaviours and help them feel safe and secure.
- Encourage your child to talk to and connect with their friends and educators.
- Help your child to find a familiar face on their return to school (for example, their educator, their friend or their sibling).
- Remind your child that the world is a safe place to be and you and their educator will help keep them safe.
Be present and available
- Practice staying emotionally and physically healthy. You are role modelling to your child how to take care of yourself.
- Children need structure and routine. Re-establish as much of your previous routine and structure as possible – remember it can take time for both children and adults to settle back in.
- Structure is important but so is being open to change when necessary to help adapt to your child’s needs and feelings.
- Be clear about what you can and can’t do at this time to stay safe and explain this to your child in a child-friendly way.
- Remind your child how they can help themselves and others stay safe at school by doing things such as washing their hands and listening to their educator.
- Anticipate questions your child may ask when they come home from kinder so you can be prepared. Not all children have been given the same level of information about COVID-19.
- Be ready for your plans to not go to plan and be accepting of this.
- Make time to have fun with your child.