Starting a new school year can be stressful at the best of times, let alone during a global pandemic. You can make your child feel at ease by having an open conversation about what it is that’s worrying them and letting them know that it’s natural to feel anxious.
Children may feel nervous or reluctant to return to school. Be honest – for example, you could go through some of the changes they may expect at school, such as needing to wear forms of protective clothing like masks. Children may also find it difficult being physically distanced from friends and teachers while at school – you could encourage them to think about other ways to bond and stay connected.
Reassure children about safety measures in place to help keep students and teachers healthy and remind children that they can also help prevent germs spreading by washing their hands with soap and coughing or sneezing into their elbow.
Remind children about the positives – that they will be able to see their friends and teachers and continue learning new things
It’s important to be calm and proactive in your conversations with your children – check in with them to see how they are doing. Their emotions will change regularly and you need to show them that it is okay.
Whether at school or at home, parents and carers can engage children in creative activities, such as playing and drawing, to help them express and communicate any negative feelings they may be experiencing in a safe and supportive environment. This helps children find positive ways to express difficult feelings such as anger, fear, or sadness.
As children often take their emotional cues from the key adults in their lives – including parents and teachers – it is important that adults manage their own emotions well and remain calm, listen to children’s concerns, speak kindly and reassure them.