Summer is ending and back to school is getting closer and closer. However, there is still some time to prepare (especially psychologically) for the total resumption of the routine between the benches (which this year will also have wheels, but they are not fun at all). After all, after a long wait, it will be nice to go back to the real school without monitors, masks (apart from exceptional cases) or remote lessons!
You may be wondering how to prepare your child for going back to school or starting a new school adventure with minimal stress. By following some simple practical advice, you will be able to face this moment in the best possible way with your baby. Here is a guide to stress-free back to school for parents and children.
What is a back to school necklace
Whether it’s coming back from a long summer vacation or attending a new school, the time of back to school can be a source of stress for many parents, children and teenagers. This delicate moment can test families’ abilities to adapt to new teachers, or a new class, as well as manage their children’s school schedules and study. Often, it’s the fear of the unknown – new classmates, teachers, or the thought of having to study difficult subjects – that is most stressful for children at the beginning of school. Although the phrase back-to-school necklace sounds innocent enough to those unaware of its real meaning, it is actually a cry for help as it’s a code for death by hanging.
The critical issues range from nosophobia, that is the fear of contagion, to kainophobia, anxiety for novelty, from separation anxiety for detachment from parents, to FoMO syndrome or Fear of Missing Out – fear of being cut off.
Tips to help your children cope with the return to school
Talk about the school
Your child may be worried about going back to school. You can help your child manage their worries and anxieties by using the ‘Time for us’ resource. Start talking about what your child’s daily routine might be like. Hopefully, we will have a clearer picture of what the ‘back to school’ plan will look like towards the end of the summer holidays.
Begin new routines
Do not expect your children to immediately switch from the relaxed and flexible holiday routine to that of school. Allow at least a week before the start of the term to return to regular, pre-arranged meal and bed times, with other conveniences such as a bedtime story. If your child goes to a new school, some routines will need to change. Routines are important for children because they know what to expect. Before starting school you can show him the way to school and introduce him to the new routine. Allow plenty of time in the morning to have a relaxed journey to school. Having a busy morning can be very upsetting for children who are faced with a new environment at school. It’s also nice for both parents and kids to have time in the morning to talk about the day ahead – and have some fun along the way!
Listening to children is the first step in understanding their emotional state with respect to the resumption of school activities, accepting their possible concerns. It will be essential not only to reassure them and therefore avoid expressing excessive concern and anxiety related to the infection from Covid-19, but also to stimulate the sharing of school activities, the story of new, positive and fun experiences that they will live at school.
The resumption of school activities after its suspension represents a very delicate moment both for children and teenagers and for teachers. This is why it is essential to collaborate with them, trying to convey coherent messages in line with those of teachers and school staff. Only by working together will we have a safe recovery and a school accessible to all. It is appropriate to “team up” with other parents and supporting families and children who show particular difficulties during this period can really make a difference. Being supportive and available even just by listening and being proactive in finding solutions together can certainly be of help for the most vulnerable families.
Provide simple and clear information
Speaking the truth in the simplest way is always the best thing to do. Informing the little ones in simple, age-appropriate language is the best way to reassure them and facilitate understanding of what is happening around them. To do this in the best possible way, each adult can contact the school, refer to official sources such as the Ministry of Education and Health.
Reassure and deepen
It is essential to make children and young people understand that the new rules and new protective devices used at school are necessary measures to guarantee everyone protection and safe resumption of lessons. It is therefore useful both to explain to the little ones that at school they will find some structural changes, but also to propose moments of in-depth study, also through play, to study the scientific issues related to the virus and the methods of contagion. This will help children and young people to feel more aware and also better understand the indications of the behaviors to adopt.
Small gestures that can make a difference
In a climate of tension, Save the Children highlights that it is very important to find new and fun ways to entice children to make small gestures of prevention habitual. It is also essential that adults set an example in following the rules in force, especially in the presence of the little ones. By adopting consistent behaviors and enhancing the activities at school, also creating opportunities for fun, they will transform these small gestures into healthy habits.
Make children autonomous in carrying out their homework
Everyone tells us that the homework has to be done by themselves. I specify that there are children and children, those who do their homework alone like Matilde in my case, always, because she is good and predisposed. Then I have Violetta who today too has become good and independent, but she needed support, to better understand the things explained at school. Everyone has his own times, you have to support and bear your children and put them in a position to become autonomous, each with his own learning times.
Buy all the material for the school
Buy all the material for the school, including books when possible, and even the aprons, otherwise it will happen to you like me who, with the fact that Matilde was in sixth grade, I forgot Viola who was in fourth grade, so luckily I recycled the aprons of Matilda. However, recycling is important for a greener world so let’s look at the positive side of things and don’t feel like we are distorted mothers.
How to manage your children’s anxiety
Fortunately, there are things you can do to help your children overcome anxiety. Start by talking to them to understand the root of the problem. Keep the communication channel open. Let them know that you are on their side. Encourage them and maintain a routine to reassure them and help them build self-confidence.
It is important to understand how to help your children fight the anxiety of returning to school in the Covid emergency, also because the anxiety will not end with the end of the pandemic. Some common reasons children may feel anxious to attend school include having problems with other children, worrying about failure, being anxious to use the bathroom in a public setting. It may be that they think they think their teacher is “mean” to them. In the worst cases, they could be victims of threats and physical harm from a bully.
Try asking your child something like, “Has something happened at school lately that is upsetting you?” or “What makes you sick?”. If you already have an idea of what is going on, you can try to clarify by saying something like: “Is another student mean to you?” or “Are you afraid of using the potty at school?”.
Talk to the teacher to find out if there are any specific problems
If your children cannot or do not want to explain the problem, talk to the teachers. It can help clarify the problem. The teacher may also be able to help you develop a solution. Ask the teacher for suggestions especially if you notice specific problems regarding the school environment. For example, if your child is having problems with homework or with another student, ask the teacher for help to solve the problem.
Identify any recent changes in your home that may be causing anxiety
Sometimes children can develop anxiety about school due to a problem or a recent change at home. Think about any recent changes that may have affected your children, such as a move, the loss of a pet, or a divorce.
Teach your children self-help techniques to help them cope with anxiety. If they experience anxiety while they are in school, they may benefit from knowing how to calm down. Try teaching them a simple relaxation technique, such as deep breathing. Inhale for a count of 4, then hold their breath for 4 seconds and then exhale for a count of 4. Teach them to use the relaxation technique whenever they experience feelings of anxiety. However, if the problems persist, find a therapist who can help. Never underestimate states of anxiety, especially in children.