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How can I help my child who is not returning to school when siblings or friends are?

Many of you will now have children who are returning to school after lockdown. Similarly, many of you will have children who are not yet returning. And there will be many others who have some children in their family going back and siblings who are not. Talking to your children about what is happening, and why, is important. However, knowing what to say can sometimes be tricky.

There is already a very useful blog on our website called: How can I prepare my Reception or Year 1 child for their return to school? The blog has some useful tips about how to talk to your children about their return to school. This blog is for those of you who have children who are not going back to school.

My child doesn’t understand why they can’t go back to school when their brother or sister can

When your children have concerns about something, it can be difficult to talk about them constructively. For many of us, the instinct is to try and make it right. However, as with a lot of things during this crisis, being allowed to send your child to school is not necessarily in our control as parents. What is important is that you listen carefully to your child’s concerns and talk it through with them. Explaining why things are the way they are can be very comforting. Similarly, sticking to the truth and helping your child get clarity can make things seem a lot less scary and a lot less unfair. The Department for Education have published useful guidance that explains what has been decided and why. You can find it here:

Share the things that have gone well together with your children during lockdown

You may not be able to change the fact your child cannot go back to school to see their friends and return to normal. However, you can talk to them about what you have done during lockdown, what has gone well and what you will miss when things do get back a bit more to normal. Focusing on the positive things will help remind your child that learning at home and being away from school isn’t all bad. There will be a point when this will change. It might be worth putting together something to help you and your children remember lockdown.

Preparing your children for when they do go back

It is worth starting to get your children ready for what to expect when they do go back to school. Currently, those who have returned have found school to be very different from what they left behind before the lockdown. For example, pupils now have their own workspaces and use their own resources, sitting at least 2 metres away from their peers in class. Breaktimes are often staggered so that children can play and get exercise while maintaining appropriate social distancing. Schools have introduced much more stringent hand washing measures. All in all, it feels very different. Talking this through with your children can help them to be ready for what to expect when it is their turn to return to school.