How to support children adjusting to the new ‘normal’ in a school setting
School’s out for summer! Not that the previous term was traditional schooling per se, but still, the summer holidays are upon us. Although we’re all hoping for further relaxation of COVID restrictions, it has been announced already that schools are to return in September 2020, to start their new school year.
The classroom doors will once again be open, as life returns to a new normality. What our new normal will look like is anyone’s guess, but for anxious children (and their parents) the school settings doesn’t seem the haven it once was.
The Guardian reported back in June that school closures could trigger a child mental health crisis. With Dr Gavin Morgan, who is part of the government’s Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group stating:
“There is going to be a hell of a lot of work to be done from teachers and educational psychologists. We are going to have to pick up a lot of broken pieces and put things back together.”
Adjusting to this new way of life is hard on adults, nevermind children – so how can schools and parents play their part in ensuring children feel supported at school?
A one-size-fits-all approach is not the answer
As their class teacher, you’ll probably become aware of the problems and issues arising as the school term starts once again. The Mental Health Foundation has suggested taking an open-minded approach to dealing with these issues. What might have been one child’s lockdown experience will not be another’s.
Approach these issues with an open mind and deal with each problem on a case-by-case basis.
Talk about coronavirus, don’t brush it under the carpet
Acknowledging coronavirus has happened, can offer your class the opportunity to discuss how they feel it has affected them in the safe environment of your classroom. It can be challenging to start the conversation, so we’ve shared some useful resources from the Mental Health Foundation to help you through this transition period. The resources are broken down into age groups below:
Early Years: Sesame Street has some useful videos and resources for younger children about health emergencies and dealing with worries.
Primary school: You could read Axel Scheffler’s book about coronavirus together. It’s free to download here.
Secondary: YoungScot has a wide range of articles for young people about coronavirus, including clear explanations of the situation and “jargon busters” of some important terms.
Share information about new school policies
Anxiety can stem from the unknown, so communication is imperative between pupil and teacher. Mental health charity YoungMinds suggests providing children with as much information about their new school day as possible. This way, you’re preemptively preparing them for the new school year ahead.
- How will you be teaching classes?
- How many pupils will be in each class?
- What does playtime look like?
- What does lunchtime look like?
Answering all these questions and more can set them up for a positive new term – it can also go some way to reassure parents, too.
Maybe you could offer pupils the opportunity to submit any questions they have about their September start to their class teacher? This way, you know you’ve covered all questions they might have about the new ‘normal’.
This transition back to school was always going to be difficult. The pandemic is something foreign to everyone – so it should be used as a tool to unite us all going forward.
If you want to ensure your school communication is slick, quick and effective – read more about the benefits of our school communication app.