Helping Kids with the Transition back to School after Covid-19
What if my friend holds my hand while playing?
What if a child tries to hug me?
With most states around Australia resuming normality when it comes to pre-school and school, many children may still have concerns and fears that cause bouts of anxiety. The Covd-19 pandemic has resulted in uncertainty and disruption in many families. Children are even more affected by these changes. However, many pre-schools have resumed normal operation and those children that were home-schooled are now looking forward to reuniting with their little friends.
After weeks of online learning, being face to face can come with emotional baggage and we have listened to a stream of concerns coming from both parents and children. As parents, you want to be sure that your child is comfortable, anxiety free and stress free when going to school.
Here are some back-to-school tips to help with the transition.
Helping children with the transition back to school after COVID-19
1. Talk to them about their fears
This is possibly the very first thing you should be doing. Have an open conversation with your child about the things that are worrying them and let them know that it is normal for them to feel anxious about resuming preschool. While there is a definite sense of excitement of getting back to school, as mentioned, there would also be some reluctance or nervousness involved.
If your child has been home for many months going back to school may be a hard transition post-pandemic for some. Especially if they are now being exposed to masks and social distancing measures.
Your child may find it equally challenging to distance themselves from friends and teachers. Talk to them about the dangers of the virus and teach them new ways to stay connected.
2. Reassurance is key
Reassure your child about the safety measures that are in place to keep them and their teachers healthy. Remind them that they need to wash their hands regularly with soap; they should cough or a sneeze into their elbow as it will help to prevent germs from spreading.
3. Show them that there is a positive side
Remind your child about the positives. Tell them that when they go back to preschool, they would be able to spend time with their friends and teachers and learn new things as they used to before the lockdown. These are the positives that will encourage them to get back into learning mode and make them feel more comfortable while they are at school.
4. Stick To Your Pre-Pandemic Routine
During self-isolation, most people have found themselves with altered routines. . So pyjamas until lunchtime, cookies for breakfast and extended screen time during the day have become the norm for your child. Once you decide to send your child back to school, it is important to introduce the old routine again. Start to do things the old way at least a couple of weeks before starting pre-school again.
It means that you need to wake them up at their regular time to ensure that they get dressed, eat breakfast as usual and try to read or learn new things like they would at school. However, do not compel them to follow a specific lesson plan or catch up before they get back to school.
Everyone is sailing in the same boat. The educators at the preschool will teach them at a specific pace to ensure that they are not stressed and that all the children are on the same page. The teachers will support the children in those other areas as soon as school starts up.
5. Say Goodbye if Possible
Most parents have been working from home during the pandemic; children have gotten used to their parents not saying goodbye to them. If they suddenly have to do this, they might become extremely anxious. To follow through with the school routine that you want them to get used to, start practising saying goodbye to them a couple of times a day.
So even if you are going into your home or to work, see whether you can get someone to watch your child. The WFM culture has established a precedent where parents are at home and also more available. It means that theoretically, parents have been paying much more attention to their children during the pandemic.
If you have started getting back to work, talk to your child before you leave. While saying goodbye, do not overdo the reassurance that it can backfire and will reinforce their anxiety. If you are not going out to work and cannot physically leave, start to give your child some more time for independent play. It will get them used to being away from you.
6. Validate Your Child’s Feelings
You must have regular conversations with your child about the way they are feeling. Validate those emotions and discuss the best ways to help them cope with their feelings once they get back to school. Acknowledge that it can be challenging for your child to transition back to normal. Express that it is ok for them to feel the things they are feeling.
This validation from a parent can be incredibly crucial for a child in a time when stresses are high, not just for adults but for children as well. However, it is essential not to overdo this aspect. Balance this out with the expectation that your child is willing to challenge situations whenever they crop up.
You can also consider establishing rewards, like a favourite treat or sticker chart for their effort. It’s a good way to increase their motivation while you vocalise the confidence that you have in them, even if you are a little stressed out and on edge yourself. Keep in mind that children are amazingly resilient and can adjust much faster than adults believe.
Be Willing To Answer Their Questions
Whether your child hears it on the news or overhears you talking to others, they are going to be inquisitive. And the pandemic has affected their lives as much as yours. Here are some responses to common questions that your child may have. Keep the answers age-appropriate and straightforward.
1. Why can’t I play with that little girl over there?
A. Right now, we must take a small break from playing with other children so that everyone can remain healthy.
2. Why can’t I play with that toy that he has?
A. We can’t play with other children’s toys at the moment so that you and he can stay healthy.
3. Why is everyone at school wiping things all the time?
A. They are wiping things down so that they are clean for you and your friends at school to use. (Preschool children do not understand the concept of infection transmission at that age, so explaining more than this will only confuse them.)
4. Why is everyone wearing a mask all the time?
A. Wearing a mask is a good way for people who are feeling unwell to keep themselves safe. It also helps others around them to stay safe.
5. Will I also get sick?
A. Everyone gets sick at some time on the other. If you fall ill, you don’t have to worry because we are here to look after you until you are all better. We will visit the doctor for the correct medicines.
These are just a few of the questions that your toddler might ask you during the pandemic or when they are getting ready to go to school.
Make Your Child Feel Confident About Starting Preschool Again
As mentioned earlier, do not ignore their feelings. Make it a point to validate those emotions, answer their questions directly and clearly without alarming them in any way. Even very young children notice the things around them and are curious. But do not go into details about the pandemic and spread of infection as that can scare your child.
Explain to them that the routine change that has happened over the past few months will have to continue for some time. Just as they made changes at home, there will be specific changes made at school, and they should not worry about them too much.
It is necessary to be sensitive to your child’s feelings and address their worries. Buy colourful masks for them and tell them that they need to wear one all the time while they are outside their home or at preschool. Tell them that the educators at their school will take care of them while they are having fun and learning new things.
Clovel is now open and we have made every effort to ensure that your children are safe while they are here. We follow all the Federal Government changes that have been introduced to the early childhood & care sector. Our educators have been fully trained and are well-informed about the norms to follow while children are at school.
We at Clovel Childcare and Early Learning Centre, provide a very nurturing environment for children to learn and grow. For any information about our Educational Programs, give us a call at 02 9199 0294 or fill in this contact us form.
Thanks for reading,
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