Going into lockdown, home schooling children and navigating that alongside the stresses and strain of furlough or working from home have been one thing for families to handle. However, returning to school raises a whole other set of challenges for us all to prepare for and contend with in an uncertain, anxious, and undeniably changed world. Naturally, schools themselves share in those challenges and play a key role in supporting children as they return this autumn.
One of the biggest issues around Covid-19, is that it isn’t actually over. Much anxiety hinges on the supposition of a second wave. That, of course, is the key reason for all the Covid secure measures that are being adopted such as social distancing and face masks. Being open about that with children but without raising alarm, is difficult, and will of course be impacted by their personal experiences. So what schools do to help children as they return to school?
Grief, loss and separation
Loss has been a big theme around Covid-19 and it has come in many different guises. For some it has meant the death of a loved one, either during lockdown or as a result of Covid-19. Many will be aware of someone they know who has been unwell. Almost all children will have had an extended period of being separated from important people in their lives such as grandparents, aunts, uncles and their friends.
All of these things can have a profound impact on our behaviour at any time in our lives, so it is only natural that some children will feel more anxious, withdrawn or even angry as a result of these changes. There’s more than one way to handle these things, and naturally, different people have different needs. However, increasing pastoral support at school and encouraging communication will all help. The charity, Young Minds, have some helpful insights into how to help children handle loss.
Anxiety at home
One of the most anticipated results of lockdown are job losses over the coming months. However careful a parent may try to be not to communicate anxiety over work and money to children, it’s only natural that they become aware of it. For some it may be a case of having created a more tense environment to live in. For others, it may have a practical impact such as having to move schools unexpectedly.
In some cases these things may have exacerbated already tense home environments. For schools it can be extremely difficult to know how to handle these situations, but it is likely that significantly increased pastoral care resources will be required well beyond the initial return to school process.
Different experiences and feelings of isolation
For some, lockdown has been an extremely traumatic situation. For others, it has been more like a six month summer holiday. For others it might have just been a bit boring. Someone wise said earlier this year that we might all be facing the same storm but we have not all been in the same boat. Many children are likely to feel the same way, and that can create division and a sense of isolation amongst their peers as they return to school.
It may also result in gaps between those who are able to move forward more easily academically and those who struggle at school. Importantly, it may not be the children that you expect who find things the most challenging. Aside from encouraging communication, planning to provide extra academic as well as pastoral support, will be needed to help all children move forward.
Uncertainty and unfamiliarity returning to school
Lockdown happened very quickly, and in many cases children were not given time to process the situation or say goodbye to their friends in a timely manner. For those finishing at one school and going onto a new one this September, that could be particularly upsetting. Furthermore, as they return to school, the environment and way things are done will have changed from what they remember in order to make it Covid secure.
The ramifications of sudden change, as well as the aforementioned ongoing nature of the health crisis, may have given children a sense of distrust in the adults in their lives, including their teachers and parents. They may have a sense that they would be safer at home and could be influenced by messaging on the news and social media into feeling even more anxious. Again, the need for additional pastoral and tuition support to help them enjoy school and get a sense of achievement from what they learn will be instrumental in helping them to settle in after such a long time away from a formal school environment.
CamVision’s online tuition and education consultancy services can integrate effectively into existing school programmes as well as provide extra support for children at home. If you are an education provider and would like to speak to our team about incorporating our resources into your curriculum and services for children returning to school this year, contact our team any time.