Top tips for children, parents and teachers to understand going back to school
Specialists from Sussex Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) are offering helpful tips and guidance to parents and children about going back to school, and how to manage the new feelings and emotions they have experienced during the coronavirus lockdown.
CAMHS in Sussex are run by Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, which provides specialist mental health and learning disability services to people of all ages. The information has been published to help parents communicate with their children, and for teachers and pupils to better understand the situation over the coming weeks and months.
The list of top tips includes advice such as using technology to keep up with friends and family who we might not be able to see as often as we used to, and monitoring excessive worry or sadness, unhealthy eating or sleeping habits, and difficulty with attention and concentration.
Dr Alison Wallis, Clinical Director for Children and Young People’s Services at Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust said: “We understand the lockdown has put families and children under a lot of strain, with changes to their routine, pressures around home schooling and in some situations financial and employment challenges. We are committed to working with parents, young people and teachers to help them understand and manage the strong feelings they may have about their children returning to school.
“The last few months have been a particularly unsettling time for many children, and parents may have noticed changes to their child’s behaviour as a result of them missing their friends, or not being part of mainstream education. I would like to reassure parents that this is a normal reaction to an abnormal situation, and doesn’t necessarily mean they need specialist mental health services. Most children will readjust into school life without too much difficulty.
“Schools are doing everything they can to keep children and young people safe, while adhering to government guidelines. We know there is lots of uncertainty for parents, children and teachers. Where possible, try and limit the amount of information you look at, online or on TV about coronavirus.”
A wide variety of help and resources is available on the Sussex CAMHS website (https://sussexcamhs.nhs.uk/) including help and support for young people, parents and professionals.
See below for specialist tips for children, parents and teachers.
Top 5 tips for children and young people concerned about going back to school
- Try and limit the amount of information you look at, online or on TV about coronavirus. There are so many messages, it can become confusing
- Your school is doing the best they can by offering things like remote lessons
- Your parents are also dealing with a lot of different things; working from home, trying to home school, and most of all, look after you. Try to understand that, and try and help them around the house where you can
- Use technology to keep up to date with friends, and try to have positive conversations about things other than the virus
- Talk to parents, carers or teachers about any worries and concerns you might have about coronavirus
More information for children and young people can be found here: https://sussexcamhs.nhs.uk/help-support/children-young-people/
Top 5 tips for parents and carers for dealing with behavioural changes
- You may have noticed changes in your child’s behaviour, during lockdown. Don’t forget, this could be a normal reaction to an abnormal situation and it doesn’t necessarily mean they need specialist mental health support
- Some common things to watch for include excessive worry or sadness, unhealthy eating or sleeping habits, and difficulty with attention and concentration
- Monitor your child’s exposure to stories and information about coronavirus, and potentially conflicting messages that might be seeing
- Listen to your child and accept their feelings, and concerns about going back to school. Encourage them to deal with their feelings and they will pass. Remind them of a time when they have overcome something emotional in the past
- Remind your child that life will continue after Covid-19. Whilst it may be uncertain now, the best they can do is take each day as it comes and try and fill each day with something constructive
More information for parents and carers can be found here:
Top 5 tips for teachers to help children settle back in at school
- Being out of school for a long time will have been a difficult situation for many children.
- They will have missed their friends, and they will also need to understand why they might not be able to sit in large groups in class anymore
- It is important not to assume how a child will react and cope; some will manage the reintegration and changes without too much difficulty, whereas others may struggle. This may not be immediate or obvious so it is important to acknowledge that for some children it may take weeks or months to readjust to the changes that have already happened and will continue to happen in their daily lives. It doesn’t mean they will automatically need specialist mental health support
- Children may struggle to understand, express or communicate how they are feeling. You may notice changes in their behaviour or how they play and interact with others which may seem out of character, or different to how they were before lockdown
- Communication is essential between parents, carers and professionals working with or supporting a child. It’s important to be aware of how the child has coped during the pandemic and period of social distancing/ isolation particularly if they have experienced direct or indirect illness or bereavement
More information for professionals can be found here: https://sussexcamhs.nhs.uk/help-support/professionals/