Keep calm and carry on!
It’s official! After what has been a very strange year for the kids (and us!), it’s finally time to breathe a collective sigh of relief as children will be officially starting back at school in the second half of September. The Education Bureau has announced that we can prepare for the resumption of face-to-face classes in two phases: the first on Wednesday, 23 September, and the second on Tuesday, 29 September 2020. While parents might be reaching for the champagne to celebrate, kids will no doubt have some nerves surrounding the return – even if they’re also excited to see their friends and get back to a routine. It’s best to address this earlier rather than later as there are a lot of unknowns for children and making the transition can be daunting. So what can we do to ease their stress and reassure them that this school year will be amazing? Swipe through for five top tips!
Talk about your own experiences at school – the things you loved, the friends you made and your favourite activities. Your children will love to hear about your school days and it will help them to normalise their own feelings. Encourage them to share their own worries, following up with validating statements like “I remember feeling that way too”. Avoid questions which lead them to think about their nerves like “are you nervous?”.
Make sure your children know that they can come to you with any problem and that you’ll listen to them and talk through their fears. Give them all the encouragement they need and a little more attention than usual in the run-up to the start of term. Remind them that they will make wonderful new friends and that you’re looking forward to hearing about each day when they come home.
Your child might settle into school straight away or it might take them a little longer. Be patient with them and let them take as much time as they need (even if they act out, which they might), as they’ll need support in different ways at different times. Listen to what they have to say and concentrate on how to get to the end goal of enjoying school, rather than when they’ll get there.
Read more: Does Your Childhood Affect How You Parent?
Prepare your children for the year ahead and try to turn their nerves into excitement. Take them shopping (social distancing permitting of course) for new stationery, files for their work, snacks and maybe even a new backpack. Get everything packed up and ready to go for the first day and put it by the front door.
Talk to your children about what they’ll be doing in their upcoming year at school and prepare them in terms of location, syllabus and teacher. If they are starting at a new school, they probably haven’t had a chance to visit the campus yet. If possible, see if they can talk to a student who is already there (this will probably have to be done on the phone at the moment). This can really help to take the mystery and fear out of the experience. Since you may not be able to visit the campus in-person right now, go through the school website, show your kids virtual tours and photos of school life there.
While online learning has begun for most schools, the routine for in-person will be different and will involve getting up in time for the commute to school. In the run-up to the resumption of face-to-face classes, begin to move your children’s schedule into a more structured, term-time pattern. Make sure they get plenty of sleep but don’t let them sleep in too long or they will feel tired and cranky with the shock of the early morning school starts!
Editors note: This article was originally published on 18, August 2016 by British Tutors and updated in September 2020.