Back to school transition after lockdown

5min read

teenage girl using her laptop

As schools plan to reopen fully in the new term, you and your children may be feeling mixed emotions. 

Start early to ease the transition back to school by:

  • listening to any worries or anxieties and reassure your child
  • helping them reconnect with their social circles
  • planning for consistency

We have been through unprecedented times with the Covid-19 pandemic and you may be wondering what the ‘new normal’ will be when your children go back to school. Most children have been off for a long time and it may be hard to manage the return to school. Read our simple tips to help you and your children with this transition. 

Introducing a new routine early

With the children being off for the last few months, for some families, routines have been more relaxed. It may be helpful to start introducing a new routine to help your children with bedtimes and waking up times. If you have older children, you may be met with some resistance, but explaining to them why it is important to help their body clock adjust now will be helpful. If you have young children, you can use a visual aid to help them understand. Try to build a little structure back into their day that is reflective of school times, such as a set lunchtime, play etc. It may help to walk past their school so they can start seeing this becoming a part of their day.

Reconnecting with their social bubbles

It is natural for the children to feel a level of anxiety about going back to school and they will need lots of reassurance and for you to listen to their worries. It may help them to reconnect with their friends via video chat or a socially distanced meet up at the park. If they start to see their friends, they may not feel as anxious about going back.

Revisit the work they have been doing

It may help to revisit the work they have been doing during the lockdown or just before. Helping them getting back into school mode through the work or projects they have working on may help them adjust too.

Listen and reassure

As your child has been home for a long while, naturally, they may be feeling anxious about going back to school. Encourage an open and honest conversation and listen to their worries. Give them many hugs and let them know that you are there for them. If they struggle to talk, ask them to write down how they are feeling or if they are younger, they can draw how they are feeling.

Rehearse safety precautions

Your school may have been in touch about their plans on keeping your child in specific bubbles etc. Go through this with your child to help them prepare for this. Practise hand washing and protective measures such as socially distancing so they can get to grips with this before school starts. The school may have given you guidance on their own procedures, such as specific bubbles. If this is the case, please go through this with your child. Make it fun and light hearted so they don’t feel pressure or stress.

The day before school

Plan a special day on the day before they go back to school to help them take their minds off going back. Maybe a picnic, a walk in the woods or at your local park. This will help them feel more grounded and relaxed, as they will be having an early night. Ask them to help you plan their lunches and breakfast for their first day so they feel involved. Help them pack their bags and prepare their uniforms.

Returning to school

It is important to keep the morning stress free and relaxed. Give them a plenty of time to wake up and get ready. Prepare their favourite breakfast so they have a good meal inside them. If their friends live nearby, maybe you can plan to walk in together if possible.

If they are struggling emotionally, maybe you can put a family photo or something that is yours in their bag so if they feel stressed, they can look at this for comfort. You can write a little note for them in their lunchbox so they know that you are thinking of them.

Recharging through down time

Although the transition back to school may be difficult or challenging, it is an ongoing process. Build in lots of down time using relaxation and recharging. Whether this be through play, games or social networking (for older kids), allow them the time to reenergise.

Some families might not be ready

We also understand that for some families, they may not be ready to send their child back yet for various reasons. We appreciate that this is a decision you have not come to lightly. You may be feeling under pressure from other angles, but you have to do what is right for your family and we appreciate that this comes first. If you need to talk about your concerns, please do speak to your school. They may be able to reassure you about their plans, discuss sending work home or help make alternative arrangements.  

Download our memory capsule worksheet to help your child recapture their happier memories of the lockdown. 

Further support and advice

Call our helpline on 0808 800 2222

You can talk to us online via our live chat service which is open, Monday to Friday between 1.30pm and 9pm.

Visit our online forums to find out how other families are coping