Back to School after lockdown
Tips and tricks for a successful transition back to school life for your family
Every parent, educator and even most children are hoping that in the near future the COVID-19 numbers will drop enough that our schools can open again. Going back to school presents some challenges even in normal times, but going back to school after coming out of lockdown can be even tougher on adults and children alike.
We’ve listed some tips and tricks for a successful transition back to school life for your family.
Should They Stay or Should They Go?
Many schools will be offering options for students: to physically return to school, to continue with virtual learning or a combination of the two. We’ve made arguments for each option to help you make the best decision for your child when the time comes:
Physically returning to school:
Your child gets to see their peers and participate in subjects that may not be covered in online learning, like gym or art.
The distractions of being at home are removed, making it a better learning environment for students.
Sending your children to school leaves a quiet, empty house for you to carry out your own work.
Continuing online learning at home:
The safest option for children with underlying medical conditions or children who are unlikely to be able to maintain a safe social distance.
More people staying at home minimizes the amount of community spread of the virus.
You can tailor your child’s curriculum so that it personally fits their learning style, maturity level and interests.
Next: when the time comes to go back to school, your child will need to readjust to their old school day routine. It is beneficial to explain to them that although there has been a lot of extra screen time during COVID-19, you will be going to be going back to the old routine now. Your routine could include consistent wake-up times, meal times, chores such as packing lunches and doing homework and even scheduled free time. A regular routine gives your child structure and helps them to learn responsibility and independent work. Keep in mind that while maintaining a routine is best for their learning, it is still important to encourage your child to stay social, whether it be face-to-face, socially distant activities or virtual contact, it is important that children do not feel alone.
Mask-Wearing and No Sharing
Some children do not mind wearing masks, or even think it’s cool. However, not all of us are so lucky. Some of our little ones have a difficult time covering their faces all day long and it can turn into a real hassle convincing them that they have no choice!
Let them choose their own mask: teddy bears, flamingos, sports teams, dancers, some sites will even personalize a mask with your pet’s or child’s face printed on it!
You can also introduce distraction strategies: while wearing the masks, listen to music, play a word-game or talk about an exciting thing they will do today.
Secure a feeling of ownership: their mask is their own special item. Let them know that it is theirs and only theirs: no sharing or swapping masks!
For those of us struggling parents and caregivers, start by setting an example: if they have to wear a mask, you do too. Don’t leave the house without making sure the entire family is covered up so that children can see that this is a rule with which everyone must comply.
Listen, Validate, Cope
Finally, be sure to show your child that you understand their worries and struggles with COVID-19. Let them know that you, along with the rest of the world, share their fears and sadness. Listen to their feelings, validate those feelings, then teach them how to cope. You can model ways to cope with the pandemic by following public health regulations, wearing a mask and consistently practising social distancing. Also, make an effort to put a positive spin on the pandemic: remind your kids that you’ve had lots of time to spend as a family, perhaps you’ve learned a new skill or hobby, and the pandemic has taught us to appreciate our ‘normal’ lives so much more!