Scared to go back to school? You're not alone
Posted on 13th May 2020 at 12:50
As the planned reopening of schools is being outlined by the Prime Minster, how are you feeling? We are hearing about lots of teachers feeling angry about the potential loss of their own safety and the safety of the children in their care. There seems to be a loss of faith in the government and the Department for Education.
While many teachers have provided an essential service for Key Workers’ children and the most vulnerable, putting themselves and their families at risk since lockdown, the school environment has been carefully managed. Allowing whole classes back into school provides a host of new problems, especially given the ages of Reception and Year 1 pupils, such as ensuring social distancing, crowded lunch halls, children hugging each other, or young children falling over and needing care. How is the government going to put measures in place for these incidences and make sure your school is COVID Secure?
The government has also suggested that people are expected to wear face coverings in enclosed spaces. Young children especially rely on non-verbal communication, including facial expressions, to help them learn. This is a worry for teachers, as they are keen for school to remain a positive experience and not frighten children.
Are these concerns leading to you losing sleep, or sleeping too much? Are you feeling irritable or angry about it? What do you need to know to feel safe?
Making the transition easier
Here are a few ideas to help you feel better about returning to school, and what you can do to make it better for yourself and for your students:
Try being emotionally honest with your Senior Leadership Team and other members of staff, they may be able to put your mind at rest, and it is important that you feel heard.
Be emotionally honest with pupils (use age appropriate language). This is an opportunity to demonstrate how to be emotionally honest when there is a very real chance that pupils will understand these feelings. Everyone is in it together. An example might be: "I have to be honest, I felt very scared when they said we would be coming back to school. I care about you very much and I want you to be safe." Or "Sometimes I worry that I'll get ill or that someone I love will get ill."
Don't be strong for others and don't say 'I'm fine' when you are not.
If you must wear PPE, it is important that you exaggerate your non-verbal communication. Possibly develop ways of communicating e.g. air high 5s if a child has done something well. You could also encourage children to hug themselves, especially younger children, or use your hands to form a heart.
Use circle time to share thoughts and feelings - this will help pupils to learn the concept of Hearts with Ears, as they can only talk when it is their turn where they also need to be respectful of others' ideas.
Take time. Don’t run before you can walk. Be mindful that you might be forgetful. Be gentle with yourself.
Be prepared that children and staff will have faced losses. You need to be prepared for the emotions this may bring. You may want to read our articles on children and bereavement, order a copy of When Children Grieve (also available as an audio book) or participate in a Helping Children with Loss programme so that you have the tools you need to do this.
Remember that children may have disrupted sleep cycles and need to get used to a new routine. They may show abnormal behaviour, lethargy, anger, or be less motivated than usual.
Use extra positive reinforcement for the children.
Stay tuned for our "Open Ears" programme for schools, where children will learn how to support each other.
Print out the free downloadble resources on our platform for schools and share them with your colleagues - they could make a difference in other classrooms, too.
Do you have any other advice for going back to school? What would you recommend to those who are having a hard time?
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:
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