For the folk at Westbridge Academy, Battersea

A few tips for those going back to school

It’s been a long few months of lockdown and homeschooling, but going “back to school” is definietly on the horizon. Some years have already returned to Westbridge Academy and although the school has changed a fair bit in order to provide a safer environment given Covid-19, the kids seem to be very happy to be back.

Many children are likely to be very excited to be reunited with their teachers and friends but there are also some that may be anxious and worried about going back. Here are a few things to think about to help you and your children prepare for returning to school:

  1. Pick up on worries and anxieties. Some children are more forthcoming about their feelings while others might keep them bottled up. If you sense that your kids are worried about returning back to school then ask them open questions about what they are worried about (but remember they may only give you clues rather than opening up entirely!). Common anxieties might include:

    • becoming sick (or others around them becoming sick)
    • changes to established school routines and classes
    • being seperated from their friends, since classes will be split into groups
    • missing parents or a sibling that is not returning to school with them
    • something was bothering them at school before lockdown, which might make them hesitant to return

    Listen seriously to their worries and validate them (“I know how you’re feeling and it’s tough”) rather than just saying “don’t worry”. Often just talking about what they are anxious about will make them feel better. Give them practical advice on anything they can change or control and remind them that it’s ok to feel worried and a lot of others (kids and grown-ups alike) are feeling the same.

  2. Be mindful to not pass on your own anxieties. Returning back to school is definitely hard for parents too - but keep in mind that something you are anxious about may not even have crossed your child’s mind, but bringing it up now might make them worry about it too (“are you worried about having a different teacher when you go back?").

  3. Seperation anxiety. Lockdown has provided a unique opportunity for many families to spend far more time together than previously before. Many children have loved having their parents close by all day long, so it makes sense that they may feel anxiety about being seperated again. This may be harder for younger children or children entering a transitional year. Lots of hugs and reassurance will help. Remind them that you will spend lots of time together in the evenings and the weekends and maybe even plan some special things together so they have something to look forward to. This might be difficult for you too, but remember it’s only temporary and they will adapt and will love being back after a few days.

  4. Talk about the new routine. Go through all of the information about the changes to the classes and routine that the school has sent out. Tell your kids that it will be a little different to what they remember, but it will still be fun and all the new measures are necessary to keep everyone safe. Remind them that the teachers will be there to guide them through every step, and they just need to be a little flexible. Tell them that if they are ever unsure about anything, they should reach out to their teacher straight away.

  5. Reinstate normal school routine. During the lockdown we have all created our own schedules but if you know that your child is about to go back to school, it might be a good idea to restart the old routine. Adjusting waking and sleeping times ahead of the return will make it smoother to transition back to school routines. Preparing uniform and checking that you have all the necessary school bits will avoid last-minute stress too.

Just remember to take it slow and one day at a time. A lot of other people are going through this exact thing so don’t feel alone - if you’re worried about anything please reach out to your friends and family, teachers or even me for support.

Wishing you and your children an easy and happy transition back to school!