No one could have predicted the roller coaster that 2020 would present. After an horrendous start with fires and floods, a world pandemic smacked us in the face.

For many of our little people, this meant settling into a new school year, only to have the rugged pulled from under their feet. Just when we got used to packing school lunches and making new friends, it all went out the window.

Every state’s education department has handled the social distancing measures differently, but in Queensland we are entering the fifth and final week of ‘learning at home’. This came on the tail end of a week of pupil free days and two weeks of school holidays. For many students, they last set foot into a school eight weeks ago.

For even the most confident and social kids, this is enough to start the butterflies in their stomach. So how are we going to support our kids transitioning back to school?

Here are three suggestions for children who are returning to school next week.

  1.  Get the routines happening.  Though it may have been nice to sleep in a little longer each morning, it’s time to start setting the alarm.  This also means ensuring that bed time is adjusted to assist in the early morning regime.  Our kids need to start getting used to the idea of time lines and responsibilities.  Bring out the morning job charts again and refresh daily routines – maybe even have some practices!
  2.  Start to encourage independent time.  Your children have become used to having your there 24/7.  While you may have enjoyed this time (and kudos to you if you have!) it’s important that our children start to adjust to less face to face time with us.  If possible, encourage your child to complete some independent tasks such as colouring, lego, outside play… and start to gradually reduce the time you are directing their activity.
  3. Reconnect your children with their friends.  If possible, arrange for your child to have a play date with some of their school friends this week, especially if you have been largely socially isolated in this time.  It’s really important that our children have some positive connections when returning to school.  Unfortunately we weren’t too far into the school year when everything stopped… the sooner we get our kids back together with their friends the sooner those connections will continue to grow.

If you do find that your child has separation anxiety returning to school, it’s important to acknowledge their feelings but reassure them that you will be there at home time to pick them up.  Try not to linger, as hard as it might be!  Repetition and routine of school life will gradually make it easier for your child and before long the ‘now normal’ will be ‘the old normal’.

Give yourself a pat on the back parents…. we never asked for this and we got it anyway.  And what’s more, we survived.  I know it’s not over yet, but we are on the road to recovery.  We need to be kind to ourselves and our children.  None of this has been easy.