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Back to school – but not as we know it

The return to school has brought great excitement, but also its fair share of anxiety. There are new rules to learn, new processes to follow – all while getting back up to speed after more than five months out of the classroom. So, as the long-awaited term gets into full swing, we look at some of the challenges students may face; and how parents can help support their children readjust to post-lockdown learning.

Many schools will be operating ‘bubbles’ or year group ‘zones’, which means most children will spend the majority of their day in one place. Additional restrictions on movement at break time could further compound frustration – particularly amongst younger children, who are used to running off steam. 

Then there’s the logistics of hand washing, potential localised lockdowns and staff shortages due to quarantine. As schools adapt, students will undoubtedly continue to experience disruption and uncertainty. And this in itself can have a significant impact on emotional wellbeing, and learning outcomes. 

This all comes off the back of an incredibly challenging time – even those children who have not directly experienced a loss may have assimilated feelings of fear and grief. This summer’s Co-SPACE study reported that in a one-month period of lockdown, parents and carers saw a marked increase in emotional difficulties, as well as physical symptoms associated with stress.

The full impact of the pandemic is yet to play out. But it’s clear that children will need much more pastoral support in the coming academic year. With restlessness and attention difficulties one of the effects of increased anxiety, it’s important for schools and parents to work together to help children process their feelings, to ensure learning returns to the fruitful and fulfilling experience it should be.

Many parents will be looking to tuition to get their children back up to speed. But alongside academic interventions, a coach or mentor can provide the nurturing support to help guide students through this ongoing time of uncertainty. Building resilience, sharing coping strategies – or simply offering a listening ear – the right mentor can boost self-confidence and self-esteem. 

At Figtree, we have a dedicated team of skilled mentors and coaches, experienced working with children of all ages. Do get in touch to find out more – and in the meantime, read our top tips or supporting children to make the transition back to school this term.   

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