Tips for parents

School will be different now and your children may be feeling anxious. Here are some tips for parents on how best to prepare them.

Make time to talk about their worries

  • Listen to and acknowledge their concerns. Try not to make assumptions, dismiss or minimise their fears – but validate how they are feeling. It is completely normal to feel a mixture of emotions.
  • Reassure them it’s healthy to talk about worries and emotions; praise them for sharing them with you.
  • Your child’s emotions will change regularly and that’s okay. In the run-up to returning check in with them by making time for little conversations about going back to school.

How do I know if my child is well enough to attend school?

  • Take a look at the Public Health guidance which sets out the symptoms that mean parents and carers should keep children at home, request a test and isolate the household.
  • We encourage parents and carers to consider the welfare of other pupils when sending your child to school and keep them at home if they are too unwell to attend. Remember, if they are experiencing diarrhoea and/or vomiting then they must not return until 48 hrs after symptoms have passed.

Help your child prepare for changes

  • Worries and anxious thoughts can happen if your child feels out of control. Explain things will look different – but tell your child not to worry, because the teachers have been thinking about how to make school safe and will help you get used to the new layouts and routines.
  • Remind them of all the ways they can keep themselves safe: washing their hands regularly, sneezing and coughing into their elbow, not hugging others and staying in their own space.
  • It can also be reassuring to talk about things that haven’t changed – like wearing the same uniform, there will be break-time and lunch and they will see the same people at school.

Re-establish routines

  • It is natural for parents to be anxious about the return to school – your child will take their emotional cues from you, so it is important to manage your own emotions well. Remain calm, speak kindly, reassure them and be steady and supportive.
  • Families relaxed their rules and routines during lockdown – talk to your children about easing back into routines. Gradually get them back into their usual mealtime, screen time, morning and bedtime routines as they get closer to their return date.

Help them have excitement for the future

  • At a time like this, it can be hard to feel positive, but identifying the things that they can look forward to will help them realise that the current situation won’t last forever.
  • Help your child think of positive things like being with their friends, seeing their teacher or doing their favourite activities.

Take care of yourself

  • It is entirely normal to feel overwhelmed or worried about sending our children back to school.
  • Be kind to yourself – make sure you build in time for activities you find help clear your stress.
  • If you are in an emotionally strong place you can support your child better with their own emotions.

Seek support

  • If your child is experiencing difficulties at school – reach out to the school as soon as you can, make them aware of the challenges and work together to support your child.
  • If you are worried about your child’s mental health and you think you need professional support, speak to the school and your GP about the best next steps.

For more information please see the Open for Parents website.