Many children are going to be heading back to school and preschool, or starting afresh at school in a post-lockdown world that looks different to anything we’ve known before. We’re still navigating this pandemic, which means being aware that situations could change at any time.
With new or revised COVID-19 procedures and policies in place, many schools cannot run their usual orientation programmes and access to schools may be restricted or impossible for families who have children starting in the new year.
But ... predictability for kids = safety and security ... Now what?
Kids need predictability around new experiences and environments to feel safe and secure. With a reassuring sense of predictability, they’re better neurologically primed to adapt well and absorb the new information they encounter as they settle into their schooling environment.
The onus is falling on parents to find creative ways of supporting and preparing their kids to give them the predictability they need as they start or return to school or preschool. But, with reduced access to school environments and orientation programmes, it’s hard to feel that we have been able to do sufficient preparation. We also have to be ready for changes to policies and procedures depending on how our governing bodies choose to manage the pandemic in our areas.
It seems like there may never be a sense of ‘getting back to normal’, but there are things we can do to create a sense of predictability, consistency and continuity for our kids, even in an unpredictable world that seems to be changing all the time.
6 tips to get school-ready
1. Get back into your usual routine for going to bed and getting up in the morning during the weekdays.
2. Make a visual checklist together so your child can remember what needs to happen on school mornings.
3. Get familiar with any new policies and procedures put in place at the school. Make a plan for managing transitions at drop-off and pick-up with your child that is consistent and predictable. Talk about going back to school and what might be different as we take precautions that help to keep ourselves and others safe.
4. Remind them of the positive things to look forward to like seeing their friends, meeting new friends, and getting to do lots of activities again.
5. Be aware of non-verbal signals of worry, e.g. stalling tactics or fussing over insignificant details. Explore and acknowledge your child’s feelings so they know they are heard and validated. Kids can pick up on our sense of apprehension, so if you notice they’re showing signs of worry, find some quiet one-on-one time to explore what’s going on for them.
6. Plan a daily catch-up at a time when your child is ready to talk and you can give your full focus so you can check in with them as they integrate and adjust to new and changing circumstances. Lying down with them for a few minutes at bedtime is a good opportunity for them to do a ‘worry dump’ and offload things that are on their mind so they can get off to sleep peacefully.
Making the tricky job of parenting a little bit easier
The My Big Moments Ready for School book helps kids to prepare for starting school, preschool, or transition into a new school environment with confidence. In light of the disruption to orientation weeks for some schools, Ready for School can play a vital role in helping kids feel safe and secure as they head into that unfamiliar school environment.
The book helps them engage in the preparation process, learn about what to expect and figure out what to do when they need a little extra support. Ready for School helps parents and caregivers open important conversations with their children about their next big moment so they can provide the love and support they need.
We’ve put this book together with consultation from our child development experts to make the tricky job of parenting that little bit easier. We hope that now, more than ever, it can relieve some of the anxiety of entering into a new and unfamiliar situation as families and schools continue to adapt in the face of major disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.