Melbourne’s schools reopen this week and many children will be returning to school at least part time. However, returning to school after many months of home educating is likely to present challenges.
For some children, returning to school will be a source of comfort and happiness. Others will feel conflicted emotions. After living in the world’s most locked-down city, many children may experience a profound feeling of loss—loss of safety and normalcy, and, for some, loss of lives and family. We must be especially conscious of children’s social and emotional needs in the coming weeks as they transition back to school.
Read on to learn ways to help ease your child back into school.
1. My child is feeling nervous about returning to school
Almost every child (and parent) will feel conflicted about returning to school. Discuss with your child what they are worried about as well as what they are looking forward to, and tell them that it is okay to feel nervous, excited, relieved, and upset.
Reassure your child that schools and the government are working hard to ensure the safety of children in schools, and that those who are sick will stay at home. Help them practise good hygiene such as washing their hands properly and coughing and sneezing into tissues.
Be on the lookout for signs of anxiety, such as becoming more withdrawn, being worried about more things than usual, excessive tiredness, agitation, tantrums, meltdowns and sleep issues such as sleepwalking or wetting the bed.
You may need to ease your child back into school and in which case, keep the school informed.
2. My child has lost their confidence
After being away from the routines and expectations of school for so long, it is common for children to lose confidence.
Your child may have lost confidence in their:
• Academic ability
• Social skills
• Academic ability
Ability to manage their emotions and behaviour
• Ability to focus
Assure your child that everyone loses confidence in their abilities from time to time, and that their peers may be feeling the same way. Their teacher will most likely begin with a gentle approach because they will need to be sensitive to the social and emotional needs of their students.
3. My child is refusing to go back to school
Some children may be bursting with delight at the prospect of returning to school. Your child, on the other hand, might be the polar opposite. Your child may have enjoyed the freedom of being at home, and having more time and focused attention with you. Perhaps they thrived at home because they were free of a system that didn’t work so well for them. Now, they may be nervous about returning to school.
Reassure your child that it is normal to feel conflicted feelings, and talk about the advantages of going to school. It may be beneficial to organise a fun activity for your child to do after school so that they have something to look forward to.
Keep the school informed and speak with your child’s teacher about their reluctance to attend. Many schools would have discussed this possibility and developed a plan to cope with such scenarios.
4. Online learning has not worked well for my child. They haven’t done much work.
Don’t be concerned! It is the teacher’s responsibility to determine what academic milestones your child has reached. They are excellent at recognising gaps in children’s understanding and developing strategies to help them catch up. It is the responsibility of your child’s teacher to educate in a way that accommodates every child in their class.
5. My child has ADHD
After months at home free of the visual and auditory stimulus of a bustling classroom, your child with ADHD may struggle to return to school. Inform your child’s teacher if there have been any tactics that have worked particularly well at home to keep your child focused. Request that they be adopted at school as well. If your child is on medication, make sure they are taking it and that the school is informed of it.
Your child may need help to regulate as well as more regular opportunities for exercise or rest. Discuss this with your child’s school, and also teach your child the importance of asking for a movement break.
6. I think my child has additional learning needs
If you are concerned that your child may have additional learning needs, speak with your child’s teacher, who will advise you on the next steps. They will be able to keep a closer check on your child and ensure that they receive the necessary attention or support. They will also be able to advise you on how to have them assessed if necessary.
If your child has been assessed externally, please notify the school. The more information you can supply, such as reports and details of any strategies that have worked at home and those that haven’t, the better.
If you feel your child needs additional support for their specific needs, Forging Roots Education can help. We provide face to face specialist tutoring sessions that are multi-sensory, evidence based and targeted to each student. These sessions can be conducted at your child’s school. Contact us for more details.
7. Home school has worked better than school for my child
Many parents have felt their children have performed better and achieved more at home than at school. Your child may have benefitted from close one-on-one supervision, the ability to work at their own pace, and the flexibility of a less structured day. However, school provides benefits that are difficult to obtain at home, such as enhanced possibilities for social development, the specialist skills of professional teachers, and access to sports, technology, and other facilities and materials.
If you decide to permanently home school your child, notify the school. They will be able to discuss the procedures that need to be put into place and how to register with the VRQA; Victoria’s home education regulator.
More information about home schooling in Victoria can be found here: https://www.vrqa.vic.gov.au/home/Pages/homeeducation.aspx.
Forging Roots Education can help if you need some guidance on teaching approaches, strategies and lesson content, or if you need the support of an experienced teacher to supplement your teaching. We are here to meet your child’s needs and to ensure that your child is not missing out on crucial aspects of their learning.
8. Get back into school routines
Routines are necessary for all children, but they are especially crucial for students with special educational needs. School routines will most likely be a welcome relief for many. If your child’s school has provided you with information about their schedule or new health and safety procedures, share it with them ahead of time so they know what to expect.
As much as possible, try to get back into your pre-covid school routine. Children may not remember how to prepare for school after being off for so long, so it may be helpful to write this down or design a visual timetable. Your timetable might need to include the night before routines of packing bags, laying out clothes, and getting to bed on time. Allow more time than usual in the morning to get ready.
After school, talk to your child about their day. Remember that they will still be adjusting and may be tired or overwhelmed after a long day, so allow them time to rest and recharge.
9. Ease into returning to school
Your child will most certainly be exhausted after returning to school, especially if they have special educational needs.
If your child is feeling extremely tired, overloaded, overwhelmed, or anxious, you may want to consider gradually increasing your child’s school days. Speak with the school about having your child attend for fewer hours a day or fewer days per week. You might also discuss limiting or eliminating schoolwork until your child has gotten back into a routine.
The return to school will most likely be exhausting and stressful for both you and your child. Make sure you take care of yourself as well, and schedule some child-free time to de-stress, relax, and do some of the things you enjoy.
Forging Roots Education offers targeted one-to-one and online expert tutoring to children and adults with learning difficulties, disabilities, and complex communication needs. Our sessions are delivered by a qualified special needs teacher with over 16 years’ experience.
Get $10 off each session until 30 November