24 June 2020

Helping children to return to school after lockdown

I CAN's Speech and Language Advisor, Amanda Griffiths, considers transition for children and young people following school closures due to Covid 19. Amanda is currently working with the Hinkley Point C Community Fund project. The project aim is to raise the aspirations and resilience of children and young people by working with local pre-schools, schools and organisations to improve speech, language and communication skills in areas of social disadvantage.

The summer term is a time when parents with children  are beginning to think about transition to a new class or new school in September. For younger children it may be their first time separating from their parents to go to nursery. At any age, times of transition can be exciting with the promise of new experiences and friends, but equally they can be daunting. Lockdown, due to Covid 19, and the uncertainty around schools reopening, is likely to heighten concerns about transition  both for parents and children themselves. Even  the children of key workers, who have remained in school throughout lockdown, will be facing as much uncertainty about transitioning to the new school year as those who have been at home.

There is much that parents, carers and teachers can do to support children’s transition. Research shows that it is important parents understand the nursery or school’s culture. This includes practical things like knowing about day-to-day routines and timetables, the location of lockers, pegs and trays to expectations about behaviour. Schools offering a supportive transition programme before children move to a new school will provide all this information and enable children to feel confident and welcome. With schools closed this is more difficult to achieve but there are many creative ways to share this information. This may include:

  • Virtual classroom tours. Teachers can record with a voice over to show children around.
  • Teachers can create books for younger children to share with their parents with pictures and information about what to expect in their new school or class.
  • Teachers can create cartoons and fun information packs for older children.
  • Letter writing. Teachers can write to pupils. Pupils could also be paired up to write to each other, e.g. children from the year above could write a welcome letter to children moving into their old class.
  • Ensure families have a named, key person they can contact with questions and via phone or email.

A positive partnership between home and school will give the strongest foundation to ensure children have a confident and happy transition.

Parents and families can also support their children. Simple strategies like creating a bedtime routine will help your child be rested and ready for school. You can do this by:

  • Stopping all screen time an hour before starting your child’s bedtime routine.
  • Use this time to support your child to get ready for school, e.g. tidy up, pack their bag and get clothes ready together.
  • Share a bedtime story. Reading to children is beneficial even when they can read independently to themselves.

Other strategies

  • Share resources given by school with your child. These may take many forms, like those described above and may include photographs, books and videos.
  • Use google earth or satellite maps to explore the school grounds or the walk or bus route to school. Talk about familiar places and people they may pass on their way to school.
  • Share any concerns you have about your child with their school. The better the school knows and understands your child the better able they are to support him or her.

Remember communication is key. Listen to your child and share their excitement and talk through their concerns. In these uncertain times be honest and open with your child. By communicating together you can prepare to face transitions as and when they arise.

I CAN can support you and your child:
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