Helping students transition back to school

Toorak College
Oct 8, 2020 1:13:04 PM

This year has been a year like no other and for Victoria’s students, they have had to manage concerns and anxieties about the COVID-19 situation, adapt to a new set of rules and restrictions, develop a whole new way of learning and socially distance from their friends and loved ones for lengthy periods of time. 

We can’t wait to welcome our students back, however, we acknowledge that while they return to a familiar environment filled with familiar faces, as they navigate their return they will need the support of their teachers and families. 

Here are our tips to help your child transition back to school:

Reassure Your Child That School Is Safe

After an extended period of remote learning, how do you reassure your child that school is safe? 

Have a conversation with them. Explain that the decision to come back to school is based on medical advice and that everyone at school is working hard to make sure they are safe. Discuss any return to school plans that your school has issued as newly implemented protocols may mean that they are dropped off / picked up at a new time or in a new place. Perhaps they will be in a different classroom or desk, they may be restricted to spend recess and lunch in zoned areas or their temperatures may need to be checked each morning before going to school. 

Be sure to validate any concerns they might have and use the return to school book or discuss these concerns with their classroom teacher or Head of Year.

Reflect On What Has Happened

2020 has no doubt been challenging, but it has also afforded us many new opportunities. Take time to reflect with your child on what changed and what was better. Make a commitment to continue with the ‘better’ into the future. This may be keeping with a new morning routine, spending more time outdoors, continuing with new hobbies or not signing up to as many after-school activities as before. 

Equally, encourage your child to write or talk about what they have missed during the remote learning period. This will give you an opportunity to see how they are feeling and if they are apprehensive or excited about returning to school. Reflect on the things they found hard, the things they have learned and on what they loved about school in a pre-COVID world.

Get Back Into A Routine 

Developing a daily routine can help us feel more in control and allows us to make time in our day for things that are important. Having a routine not only positively impacts our mental health, it also helps us form healthy habits, reduce our stress and adapt to change when necessary. 

The sooner you introduce a routine that aligns with coming back to school, the more beneficial for you and your children. Small adjustments such as bringing forward your wake up time to account for the drive to school or having a proper breakfast given there will no longer be all-day access to the pantry will lead to a smoother transition. 

Another key aspect of your daily routine is sleep. At home, remote learning may have seen bedtimes pushed back and sleeping in becoming more frequent. Sleep routines don’t change after one night so we recommend encouraging your child to adjust their routine a few days before they return to school. 

Build Their Confidence 

As restrictions start to ease, our focus should be on returning to our ‘new normal’ as much as possible. Try to organise seeing a school friend so your child can start to reconnect with their friends before they even get to school. 

Once they return to school, ask them how they’re feeling, what they’re enjoying, and what might not be working so well. Do this informally and regularly - as you are walking in the afternoon or when you are cooking dinner. Another idea is to start a gratitude conversation over dinner with the whole family and ask everyone to talk about one really good thing that happened that day. Encourage your child to be specific with their examples, “I sat next to someone I haven’t worked with before and she was really fun” rather than “new friends”. This can be a good way to gauge your child’s day without putting too much pressure on them to identify a feeling or an issue. 

If issues are raised, you may want to help your child face their concerns by promoting problem-solving. Together, identify a few possible solutions and help them identify which solution seems best. You can discuss different options or role-play solutions to help your child build their confidence.

Every student will have different experiences from 2020. It is important to know that your child’s school and teachers are there for you and your child and are here to help.  

Further resources can be found on the iVE wellbeing page and below: 

Tips on how to deal with stressful situations released by Unicef

Managing your child's transition back to school released by Beyond Blue

How to help your teenager transition back to on-site learning released by Beyond Blue

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