Explaining School Opening to Young Children
Posted on 25th May 2020 at 15:30
If you are planning on sending your young children back to school from 1st June, it would be a good idea to start talking to them about it now.
You might be met by excitement about seeing their friends and teachers again, or your child might be worried, which could be down to the loss of their current "normal". They might be worried about forgetting the things they’d learned before, or they might be worried about their safety. Many children may have felt more at ease at home and will be scared to go back to a teacher they don't like or children who aren't kind to them. You might find they’re both excited and worried.
Give children the right tools
It’s not realistic to protect children from everything sad or frightening in life. What we can do is give them the right tools to deal with emotional pain and grief. Even when we can’t control outside events, we can control how we talk and listen to our children.
You’ll have to make a judgement about your child’s maturity level and their ability to understand without frightening them - talk to them at an appropriate level. However, tell the truth about your feelings and go first, which will then make it safe for your children to talk honestly, too.
What you can do to help your child
Acknowledge their worries and don’t tell them not to worry
Be honest and tell them that school is going to be a bit different, their class size will be smaller, and some children won’t be going back to school at the same time as them
Remind them that they will still need to wash their hands often, like they did in March
Take a walk to school to see that the building still looks the same from the outside. This will give them an opportunity to ask questions
Explain that playing with friends will be different as children will need space between them
Practice having space between you. You could get a tape measure out, or a piece of string or wool cut to the same size as an interior door. Talk about how you can still play at distance. You could even pretend to be trees or aeroplanes
Show children what space will be like at the dinner table, so that they know what to expect at their desks and lunchtime. Again, this will provide children with the chance to talk about how they’re feeling
Feeling sad or scared are normal and natural; don’t try to fix them or make promises.
More ways to help your children
Childhood - even a childhood that is happy and healthy - is full of losses. Friends can move away, children can change schools, they can encounter the loss of a grandparent, neighbour or pet, or there may be divorce or separation in the family or circle of friends. As parents, it is not our job to "fix" things for our children. But it is our job to teach them the tools for dealing with loss and the conflicting feelings of grief.
The current pandemic is certainly a way to practice speaking with your child about change and loss, but you can go deeper. Our book When Children Grieve offers in-depth understanding and practical advice for helping your child recover from a significant personal loss of any kind. Our Helping Children with Loss programmes give parents confidence and a completely new way of dealing with day-to-day losses and disappointments as well as more intense grief. Learn more by visiting our Children page.
Have you seen our Top 5 tips for living through lockdown?
Take a look at our 5-point Plan for how to cope, improve your relationships and start feeling better today:
2. Be present
5. Say goodbye
Looking to expand your in-depth knowledge?
Would you like to speak to someone or are considering a Grief Recovery programme? Click here to find an online Specialist who can help you right away.
If you would like more information on how to cope with the current coronavirus crisis, see also:
Share this post: