Back to school: The 3 R’s for a smooth transition
As many families in the UK prepare for children to go ‘back to school’ after the latest national lockdown, Beth Kerr, Group Wellbeing Director for Cognita, offers some advice on how to make it a smooth transition, with suggestions that are applicable for anyone, anywhere.
Parents and children are preparing to return to school after missing an average of 446 hours of social interaction during the two school closures.
The debate on how home-schooling has affected children has been dominated by concerns over a gap in learning and how to close it. However, focusing on wellbeing at this stage will help prepare children to learn better in both the short and long term.
Critically, this is not about raising the spectre of a “lost generation” of young people – it’s about taking a measured view of what children need now, having been through two lockdowns in the last year. And what children need is the strong foundation of balanced wellbeing, especially those who may face the challenge of extra academic work further down the line. It’s the responsibility of their educators and parents to give them this foundation.
Children who have been home-schooled during last spring’s lockdown and most recently in 2021 have missed out on an average of 17 weeks of school and all the associated social interaction that goes with that.
Families have been through so much upheaval. And now we are entering yet another transition period which could last any number of weeks depending on the child. In a YouGov Omnibus Parents poll this week, 41% of parents said they were anxious about aspects of their child returning to school. In the same poll, 24% of parents said their child was worried about fitting back into friendship groups.
These worries are understandable, and very natural, but there are practical things parents can do to help manage this phase positively. I think of them as the ‘Return to School 3 R’s:
- Relationships – Good relationships are a strong predictor of children’s wellbeing. As they return to school, their friendships, ‘detaching’ from their parents and adjusting to in-person connections with teachers will all be key to navigating through another change successfully. When restrictions permit, seek every opportunity for children to interact with friends and family.
- Routines – It can take time, but children respond well to consistency. Giving them some autonomy over the structure of their new routine will help them to accept changes.
- Rest – Restful sleep is the single most effective thing we can encourage to help our children’s wellbeing. Make it a priority now to re-establish good sleep habits.
Following the weeks of school closure that seemed to last forever, now is the time to focus on the positive growth in in our children’s independence and resilience.
Beth has also recorded a short video on this topic which you can find, here.