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Back to school - are you ready for the new term?

Returning to the new school term in September, after the six week break, is a routine we are all familiar with, whether as a child, a parent or a teacher. And for each there are inevitably mixed feelings. But how will this be different in September 2020? The Covid-19 cohort. Even if all children are able to start back at school, how ready are we all for how we are going to feel?

Our 4 year olds will be starting Reception, and for most it will be six months since they attended nursery. Your child starting primary school is a milestone for many parents. Children are wonderful at reading emotions and the unconscious signals the adults around them are emitting. So parents, I know you might be anxious about their first days, and what you need to know is that if you want your children to be confident, excited and positive, then that starts with you being confident, excited and positive.

Our 11 year olds will be starting at secondary school in many cases without the induction week that usually takes place in year 6. Whilst the secondary schools are doing everything they can to support the process, perhaps with virtual tours, they are just not in a position to invite the new year group into the school yet. Some may be facing a bus journey to school in September for the first time, a few perhaps not going to the same school as their friends, or in a different area. Doing those familiarisation visits seems so much harder when use of public transport is still being discouraged.

What we do know is that our teachers know that this is facing the new term, and they are preparing for it. Our primary teachers know that the new children to Reception will need a different induction to help them settle in. They are preparing for all the catch up work that will need to happen in the other year groups. For most they will have at least had the chance to say goodbye to year 6, but without so many of the usual celebration events.

Our secondary school teachers will know who has been engaging with their online work while they have been at home, and will be preparing for the challenges the mixed response will bring. There is uncertainty about exams next year, and whether students will have enough time to achieve the results they are capable of. And I'm sure that every parent who has been faced with the unexpected challenge of home schooling over the last few months is looking forward to handing the task back to the professionals.

Our state, and feelings, are really important in the readiness to learn. Breakfast clubs in many schools, are not just about childcare for working parents, they are about feeding the children who would be coming to school on an empty stomach otherwise. If we are hungry, cold, sad then we are not ready to learn, we are distracted by survival. Much preparation is being made for supporting children's mental health. Most will simply be glad to be back in school with old friends, or making new ones. But for many they will need much more support.

But what about the teachers? When we were children at school we didn't really see the work that went into the lesson. We may have hated the homework, and given no thought to the teacher who had to mark it, or when they would have the time to do that. And often as adults, and parents, people have not moved on from that way of thinking, and see teaching as 'all about the holidays'. Having worked in, or with, schools for over 20 years I know the reality is very different, the hours are long, the pressure immense, and the ever changing demands relentless.

There remain many uncertainties about the new term. Will there be 'bubbles', rotas, social distancing? With so much beyond our control, what can we control? Well we can control our self-talk, those things we say to ourselves each day. We can be kind to ourselves. We can focus on the things we can change. We can give ourselves permission to let go of negative thoughts when they come up. And if you would like some help with any of these things, get in touch and take up the free coaching offer. Choose how you feel.

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