10 tips for easing children back into the school environment, as provided by the team at Vinehall – speaking as both parents and teachers.

As parents we must be passing on the right message – anxiety is passed on to our children. Be the eternal optimist, even if you don’t feel so inside. Instead of reminding them how behind they are or how much they’ve missed, rather enforce the positives – how resilient they’ve become, how self-motivated they now are and all that they have achieved individually and independently.

Routine, routine, routine! After so many months in pyjamas, it’s important to get children back into a routine as soon as possible. Set bed time, wake up, breakfast, brush teeth etc. Children will seem tired on their return, but a routine will help them slip back into daily life easier.

Listen to them – be available to listen to their thoughts and feelings without judgement. You don’t need to try to fix everything, but help them know that their feelings are normal and acceptable.

Encourage self-management skills – with younger children this may mean them getting dressed or going to the toilet on their own, which will help them ease back into the classroom environment. With older children, making their own lunch or packing their own bags.

Talk about what to expect – it’s not going to be normal, especially not until restrictions relax even further after Easter. Talk through with your children the expectations for social distancing, face coverings, hand hygiene and of the rules of bubbles, so they are fully reminded and best prepared.

Talk about friends – some friendship groups might have shifted, children might feel anxious about socialising again. This will no doubt be temporary, but talk about this as a very normal, going back to school occurrence.

Manage expectations – there may be a lot to catch up, some will have done more than others. Maybe they’ll expect school to be easier, or they are nervous about what they have missed and reconnecting with friends. Help them to take each day as it comes.

Keep calm and carry on – children learn best when they are calm. The first priority is their wellbeing, with the academic performance catching up as a matter of course.

Get involved and be active – the benefits of exercise have been widely voiced over the past months. Encourage your child to sign up to an extra sport or club. Take up every opportunity available.

Look after yourself – as parents it has been an incredibly tough time. Allow yourself some space to breath, get some exercise yourself and try to relax in between all of life’s busy moments.

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