With the school academic year underway, students are returning to the classroom in phases, for the first time since the COVID-19 global pandemic took a grip of society, more than five months ago.
Many youngsters are both happy and excited by this prospect. Not only will they all be back in an environment specifically designed for learning, but they will also be interacting with friends they have potentially not seen for months. In essence, students are returning to a degree of normality, which has been sadly lacking this year.
However, after such a long time out of school, there are those who are feeling anxious and nervous about the start of the school year. We want to reassure both students and parents, this is entirely normal. To alleviate these concerns, we have developed a range of suggestions to help make the transition back to school as seamless as possible.
It is essential to plan and reinforce precautions that your child will be practicing back in the classroom. As a nation, there are still a range of measures in place to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. The importance of social distancing should be discussed, as should the importance of regular and thorough handwashing. Rather than this being a chore, make it part of your child’s daily routine.
Good to talk
Make little conversations and encourage your child to talk about returning to school. Discuss their thoughts about returning to school, understand their concerns, worries, or fears. It is essential to recognise these, acknowledge them, and keep a sense of calm while offering reassurance.
Always be there to listen and ensure that your child is confident talking about any issues they may have.
Explain why things look different and give a sense of what to expect as the term continues. There are new procedures, practices, routines, and rules – provide examples of these changes as much as possible – but there is no need to worry. The school and all teachers have been working tirelessly to ensure your child feels as safe and secure as possible.
One of the best ways to do this is to share pictures of what their school and other schools, look like in the ‘new normal.’ This will help put their minds at ease and ensure there are no surprises and help them to know that they are not alone.
It is now more important than ever to get back into a routine. During the lockdown, and even more so during summer holidays, we have all, to a certain extent, let bedtimes slip a little, got out of bed a little later during the weekends, and changed our eating habits and patterns. Now is the time to readjust and get back into pre-holiday and pre-lockdown routines.
Developing this routine as well as encouraging reading at home and preparing for school each day with uniform, books, or school bag from the night before, can help keep your child organised, please remember to involve your child no matter their age.
We are here to help
Just as children may have pangs of anxiety, we are fully aware parents will be in a similar boat. We are here to help! We understand parents may have some concerns about their child’s academic progress as a result of distance learning. Rest assured that teachers will be conducting baseline assessments and will be able to focus their teaching to close any learning gaps that children may have.
If you have any concerns or issues, call your child’s school. They can provide that much needed extra help in making the transition from home learning back to school fulltime.
By: Suzanne Doyle Fowles
Suzanne Doyle Fowles is an Assistant Head Teacher at Dubai Heights Academy.