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  • Writer's pictureJunior Oliveira

Back to school after lockdown; Helping children feel positive and safe

Updated: Aug 31, 2020

Hello everyone, the summer break is nearly ending and after several months of lockdown and online learning, the time to go back to school is getting closer; and we already know that the end of summer can make any happy children sad and anxious about going back to school, In addition, we have to face the truth, most families are already on edge because COVID 19, considering that this global issue has disrupted part of their summer plans and their lives in ways that were unimaginable at beginning of 2020. Consequently, there is a cloud of anxiety, stress and uncertainty hovering over a great part of families with school-age children.

But we know that as parents, we need to help guide our kid’s thinking so that they develop an effective understanding of what is taking place, and a confident response to the momentary changes in our way of living. In this sense, mums and dads who show good coping skills can help reassure their children that they are safe. Thus, we need to be modelling for our children how to react to stressful times by coping with anxiety in healthy and practical ways taking to account that they must be able to feel secure to back to the classroom by adopting their "new normal school routine". Ok, ok, these are really inspiring sentences, but the question is "how to do that?" I am posting here interesting tips on how to support children returning to school. Thus, let's roll up our sleeves and adopt the following mantra "our kid’s well being should be at the forefront of all our minds right now and we can help them to grow into responsible, resilient and happy adults, with healthy bodies and creative brains". Thus, here is 5 good tips that I would like to share with you.

1- Prepare your children for the changes When kids are faced with change in their young lives, it is not possible to predict how they are going to react. For this reason, due to the new safety measurements, it is essential to prepare your kids ahead of school starting by explaining that school may feel different; for instance, classes and school activity groups may be smaller, also they may have to wash their hands more, they may have less close interaction with friends at school and stick to specific groups of classmates; and these small groups have been called as a "bubble" (if you don't know this word already you should make it part of your active vocabulary). Another important thing is that educators at the front of a small group have more opportunities to observe and look after the class as a whole and the students as individuals. Thus it is important to emphasize that the main purpose of all these new measurements is to help keep them safe. 2- New routine and family fun We are all adapting very suddenly to new habits and ways of living, and some people may be embracing the change in their routine, but that doesn’t work for all generations. But we have to bear in mind that a routine brings comfort and consistency to a child's life, and it gives them a sense of security and helps them develop self-discipline. Also, kids, like the rest of us, handle change best if it is expected and happens in the context of a familiar routine. A predictable routine allows the little ones to feel safe, and to develop a sense of mastery in handling their lives. Also, we can make routines fun, for example singing songs to washing hands. Don't forget to wash your hands too. Your children will learn from what you do, so if they don't see you do it, talk to them about how you do it. In addition, there are other important things to do, for example, leaving shoes outside, and leave school backpack in a special spot and of course cleaning all these items down with a soapy cloth or antibacterial spray. And yes, you can sing "happy birthday" twice while washing your hands, but "Quarantine Workout" (by Laura Clery) will make you and your kids laugh insanely! 3 - Limit news and address COVID-related misinformation Depending on their age and media exposure, kids may know more about the virus than grownups think and even if unaware, the little ones still might sense tension and anxiety from adults around them. In this context, the organization InternetMatters posted some effective tips on who to use tech tools on platforms to limit their news feed and manage what they see If your child comes across news that they feel is fake or causing them to feel uncomfortable, together, get them to use the tools on the platform they use. They should mute, block and report profiles, posts and information that may be triggering and unverified. Also, If they are feeling anxious or distressed by listening or seeing news around particular issues, encourage them to switch it off and point them towards doing something that they enjoy to take their mind off it and reassure them that they are safe. Another important consideration is that we (adults) don’t have all the answers, it is completely fine to not have the answers. Actually, it is better not to pretend that we know, COVID is a new thing, and we don’t know. Thus, it is possible kids go back to school, then to lockdown again. Unfortunately, this could go on for a while. 4- Regularly check-in with them to protect their quality of life - listen to each other Firstly, it is essential to make yourself available as much as possible and mums and dads should listen to their children and not assume how they feel or what they have gone through. Help kids to listen to each other too so they can process the huge changes. It is important to not ignore the changes that have occurred. Your kids might have worries about returning to school. Start to talk through the new school routine that they were once so familiar with. It doesn’t have to start as a conversation about fears or concerns, but these might arise as you talk. To do so, try to create some strategies for talking in different ways, such as going on a walk together or coking together – there may be less pressure in these situations than when sitting face-to-face. Also, try to manage your anxiety in front of your kid, in order to provide reassurance to them, also, try to continue the activities that typically help relax and soothe your little ones, such as reading, craft, gardening, or singing, cuddling, or playing board games. 

5 - Look on the bright side From positive feelings springs happiness, for this reason, allow your kids to appreciate their spaces and creativity, also share the joy and satisfaction of them in your house express in their play and their creations. Also, we have to bear in mind that despite all the global issues, we have shown incredible resilience, in this sense most part of families have adapted very well to these unprecedented circumstances and learned to deal with all the ordeals so efficiently.

Another important thing is that people respond with different emotions to the same situation, for this reason, it is important to remember that some kids have had hugely different experiences during the lockdown. Thus, there are other kids who have had a great time with families and don’t want to return to school. As good things can and do also come from a crisis, with the lockdown we had more opportunity to spend more time with our kids, and good family time is about sharing great moments together and creating bonds and attachments. Thus, it is essential that our kids know that our love and support is always available for them, no matter what the situation or circumstances may be. My final words: Stay safe, keep your positive vibes, look after your family ( & look after yourself too) and enjoy the end of the summer. I hope you found this post useful and informative. I really need your support, as this a self-funding project, so I kindly ask you (if you can or if you wish) to please share this post and subscribe to our mailing list! Click here to see other posts. Follow us on Facebook or on Twitter :>)

See you guys!

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