Preparing for a Successful Return to School

A return to school is an exciting and emotional time for children. No doubt, they will be looking forward to seeing their friends, settling back into daily routines and discovering what ‘the new normal’ looks like. To help make this transition a positive one, Bridgitte Roberts, our Head of Student Wellbeing, has compiled some simple and effective strategies for families.

The most important thing you can do as parents is to be positive, understanding, patient and flexible. This reassures them that they are in a safe and secure environment with people who genuinely care about their health and wellbeing.

We expect all children will experience a range of emotions, from excitement to trepidation, when returning to school. Now is the time to reassure, plan and prepare our children, and ourselves, for the changes ahead. As always, clear communication and helping them manage their emotions and expectations are best practice.’

Re-establish Regular Routines
Getting back into a regular school routine, while still at home, will help children prepare and adjust.  This means waking up, eating meals, exercising and going to bed at the usual times that they would on a regular school day. For clarity, and to help create the best plan moving forward, have children list their pre-COVID-19 daily routine, then note what has changed and what needs to be adjusted.

Focus on Feelings
It is important to know that any emotions children experience are absolutely normal. Encourage your children to talk about how they are feeling and why they feel this way. By talking it through, you can help them prepare how to manage their feelings in the days and weeks ahead. Using the RULER emotional literacy approach will empower children to articulate their emotions. It encourages children to ask themselves: How am I feeling? How would I like to feel? What do I need to do to feel this way?

Planning and Preparation
Involving your children in preparation for their return to school can help ease them back into the new routine and give them a sense of control. It could be something as simple as asking them to help plan their lunches and snacks or getting them to choose a water bottle to take to school. Talk through what they can expect in the first few days and weeks, so they are well informed and prepared. A great idea is to set a plan for the week and help them to organise which books they will need.

Prioritise Sleep
A good night’s sleep is essential for overall health and wellbeing. Most children need eight to 10 hours sleep each night. To re-establish healthy sleep habits, earlier bedtimes will help your children prepare for earlier mornings. Turn off any devices at least one hour before bedtime, encourage reading before bed and ensure your children’s bedrooms are quiet, dark and comfortable - somewhere between 18 to 21 degrees. A warm bath or shower around an hour before bed can also help them wind down.

Broaden their Horizons
It is helpful for children to start experiencing activities that they may have avoided due to social isolation. Get them out of their comfort zone by encouraging small and regular activities on a daily basis. It could be getting out of the house for a walk or a ride, going to the supermarket with a family member or travelling to school with a friend or family member, taking the usual route.

Practice Gratitude
Being grateful for the good things we experience in a day is a great practice in building resilience. By shifting our thinking to include gratitude, we expand our ability to cope and build a positive mindset. It helps us to pay attention to what we have - and not what we don’t. Simple things to be thankful for may be good health, the ability to connect with friends and family on Facetime, eating meals together, playing games or enjoying a sunny walk. Writing down or talking together about three things that went well in the day and what everyone is looking forward to doing tomorrow, helps to focus on the positives.  

Have Fun
This time has been a great way for families to reconnect and find new, creative ways of having fun together. Try to keep up the activities your children have enjoyed during social isolation. Whether that is continuing your regular family movie nights, getting creative in the kitchen or taking walks together, it’s all about staying connected and having fun together. 

Give it Time  
Adjusting to change can take time and feeling nervous about change is normal. It is important to give your family the space to adjust. Be sure to take the time you need to refresh your routine ahead of time so you can be best prepared.  

 

You can print out a handy one-page flyer with these tips here.


For more Wellbeing advice and support, please visit:

https://www.mentonegrammar.net/my-mentone/student-wellbeing-parents

https://www.mentonegrammar.net/my-mentone/my-wellbeing-student

https://theparentswebsite.com.au/leaving-the-bubble-helping-anxious-kids-prepare-for-a-return-to-the-classroom/

 

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