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Going back to school tomorrow after an extended break will be nerve-wracking for many children and parents alike


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Going back to school tomorrow after an extended break will be nerve-wracking for many children and parents alike

Going back to school tomorrow after an extended break will be nerve-wracking for many children and parents alike.  

Families are not only faced with the usual struggles of getting their children back into a routine and organising their uniforms but now they have to contend with Covid-19 restrictions and re-establishing relationships with old friends. 

Many parents may be left feeling worried about how they can guide their children through the ‘new norm’ at school, from making sure they properly social distance to helping them catch up with school work. 

Femail has spoken to experts to get tips and advice for how parents can assist their children with navigating the changes in their new school lives.

As children get used to the 'new norm' at school, it can also be a daunting time for parents who may be anxious about how they can best help their little ones adjust. Picture: Stock

As children get used to the ‘new norm’ at school, it can also be a daunting time for parents who may be anxious about how they can best help their little ones adjust.

Picture: Stock

Navigating friendships

Research conducted by communication company  – which aims to reduce loneliness and self isolation – found 76 per cent of parents and carers are worried that their children are suffering from loneliness as a result of lockdown.

While children may be excited to socialise and move away from the loneliness they may be feeling, there may also be some who are worried about how they communicate with their friends as the pandemic continues to restrict who we are able to see and how we behaviour around people outside of our households. 

Returning to school after the long summer holidays may now seem scary and leave them wondering if friendships will have survived the summer. 

Childcare expert and founder of

‘This year brings the additional possibility of loss or trauma – parents losing jobs, grandparents dying, marital splits.  

To tackle the fear “What if no one likes me?”, she suggests encouraging children to write a list of all the people who they know like them, including their family, and giving it to them to take to school. 

She said: ‘Just having that in their pocket to touch occasionally or read in the playground, may help.’

If the children are struggling to get along after such a long time apart, Ms Brigden advises setting up a meet up in parks or gardens after school. 

‘Bringing everyone into a different environment to socialise often defuses arguments,’ she said.    

Parental engagement expert advises giving children ‘sentence starters’ to help them start up conversations with their peers in the lunch queue or in the playground.

‘Simple sentences like “What year are you in?” “What school were you in before?”, “Is this your first year here?” can really give children the confidence to take that first step.

If the children are struggling to get along after such a long time apart, Ms Brigden advises setting up a meet up in parks or gardens after school. Picture: Stock

If the children are struggling to get along after such a long time apart, Ms Brigden advises setting up a meet up in parks or gardens after school.

Picture: Stock

She also suggests encouraging children to make others feel included but not to put pressure on children to make friends either. 

Parents may also be worried about their children’s social skills when they get back into the classroom as they have had limited time with other young children and may have forgotten how to share. 

To tackle the issue, Innovate UK created the School Readiness platform which aims to support children from the earliest stages of their development and encourage social skills.  

The expert behind the campaign Emma Selby said: ‘Encouraging turn taking behaviour through play can help warm up some of those rusty social skills. 

‘Board games at home can be one way of doing this or my personal favourite is a game of Balloon Keepy Up – it encourages turn taking, team work and problem solving but is also social-distancing friendly.’

Anxiety

As well as worrying if their friendships will be different when they walk through the gates on their first day, children may also feel anxious about the ‘new norm’ in the classroom. 

New research this week revealed a quarter of parents admit their children have anxieties about going back to normal activities since the pandemic. 

The findings, from cleaning products company ACE, paint a worrying picture for many parents who will naturally fear for their children’s physical and mental wellbeing when going back to school. 

Natural parenting expert Angela Spencer suggests limiting how much news children absorb every day could help reduce their anxieties. 

‘The last time the world faced something as disruptive and worrying as this, the only exposure we had was a radio to listen to that gave one briefing a day,’ she said.

‘Now, the news is unavoidable and children are bombarded by it 24/7.

Whether it’s the radio at home, TV or even the phones that many young children have, its unavoidable. 

‘It’s understandably all we are talking about and it can be easy to forget that little ears can hear and feel our emotions from us. 

‘So first of all, limit little ones exposure to the news and don’t talk about the situation in front of them either.

Let children know it’s okay to talk to you about anything that is worrying them.’

The best-selling author also has also written a book, titled The Worries, which aims to help young children handle their fears. 

Former headteacher Andrew Hammond, of Discovery Education also suggests children may be feeling anxious about leaving their parents behind after such a long time together. 

He advises parents with children who are exceedingly anxious about returning could speak to the school about a possible staggered return, allowing them to get used to it in small increments. 

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