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How can I prepare my Reception or Year 1 child for their return to school?

I am worried because my child has been away from school for a long time
Yes, they have. In the mind of a young child it will feel like a lifetime. But, children adapt quickly and they will soon settle back in. One thing you might want to do is spend some time reminding them about their school. If you have pictures of their school/teachers/friends or pieces of work they have done at school, now could be a good time to get them out and talk about them.

What if my child is worried about returning?
When you are talking about school, ask your child if they have any worries about their return. Talking about worries can be hard, so make sure you have time to listen. Take care not to project any of your own worries onto your child. If your child has older brothers or sisters who are not going back to school until later, then talk to them about what is happening as well. Don’t forget your school is likely to have information about what to expect when your child returns. This may be on their website and/or there may be a member of staff you can contact for information or advice.

My child has got out of the routine of going to school.
That’s understandable. Over a long break, it is easy to get out of the habit of getting up early enough to be ready for the school day. As the day of return draws closer why not rehearse getting up, dressed, breakfasted and ready in time. Your child may enjoy finding out if their school uniform and shoes still fit. If they take a packed lunch, it may be an unfamiliar routine by now. Maybe you could prepare a packed lunch and eat it together to get your child used to this again.

How else can I help my child?
As the day to go back to school draws closer there will be things to celebrate and remember about the time your child has spent in lockdown. You might want to look back on things you have enjoyed doing together and reflect on new things your child has learned, even though they have not been at school. This link includes some useful resources for recording this with your child.

Finally, be kind and forgiving to yourself. Everyone is facing a very unusual situation, which will have affected children and parents in many different ways.

And finally … be positive!
Your child will be experiencing a whole range of emotions as you build up towards starting school. You can help to make this a positive experience. You may have mixed feelings and/or concerns of your own but it really isn’t helpful to pass these on. Focus on the positive, give your child lots of cheerful encouragement and take an interest in what they do at school.

For more advice about helping your child as they learn at home or as they prepare to return to school take a look at this episode of StarLive.