How to help your child safely return to school

After long periods of lockdown, how can parents help their children safely head back to the classroom?

In some states, 2021 has seen children switch backwards and forwards between the classroom and remote learning.

As students prepare to return to school after months of working on their laptop at home, some children will find the transition easier than others.

So how can parents ease their children back into school and help them overcome any worries?

Have a conversation

“Talk to your children about how they feel about the return to school and what they think it will be like,” Raising Children Network director Derek McCormack says.

“Children might be worried that they’ve fallen behind with work and how they’ll catch up, or they might be worried about how they will stay safe in the school environment.

“Hear what their concerns are.”

Rehearse the return to school

“Practice return to school routines as best you can before classes resume,” Casey Grammar School principal Fiona Williams says.

“Rehearse the morning routine of putting on the uniform, putting on a facemask and packing the schoolbag.

“If you think it will help your child, practice the walk or drive to school and the walk to the school gate.”

Fiona also recommends re-establishing routines around setting aside time for homework, renegotiating screen time boundaries and setting a regular bedtime if these things have slipped during remote learning.

Talk to your child’s school or teachers

“If you think your child might struggle with separation, let the school know ahead of time so the classroom teacher or teacher on yard duty can be extra ready to meet and greet your child on day one,” Fiona says.

Remind children of what’s good about being at school

Some children will have become used to being at home and may initially be reluctant to return to school, according to Derek.

“Chat about what things are better at school,” he says.

“Younger children can draw pictures or tell stories about the things they do at school that they enjoy.

“Talk with your child about the things they like best about being at school and focus on the fun things that happen at the end of the school year.”

Explain the Covid-19 safety steps

In a calm and reassuring way, run through the steps children will take at school to manage Covid-19 – wearing a mask, sanitising their hands and social distancing.

“If children are anxious about Covid-19, remind them that if children do get Covid they generally get very mild symptoms, if any,” Derek says.

“Remind them, too, that teachers are there to help keep them safe.”

Trust your children will cope

“It will be a challenge for many parents to leave their children, we all can feel separation anxiety, but it is important to remember they will almost certainly cope and bounce back quickly,” Fiona says.

“When you leave your child at school give them a quick hug and tell them that when you pick them up they can tell you about something fun they did that day.”

Written by Sarah Marinos.