Mama columnist Anna Woolf on her feelings about sending her eldest back to school post lockdown…
Comparing last September, when my daughter was about to start Reception, with this coming September, and her return to school after a 13 week hiatus couldn’t be more different. Last year there was a sense of excitement and curiosity about what was to come: the school run, making friends and playing more independently. This year we are worried. Are we making the right choice sending her back? Bubbles are set to increase in September so that classes can resume in a more normal fashion, but this means children will also be in contact with a lot more people.
As a working parent, I have been lucky to have been able to send my daughter back for a few weeks to play catch up this term. At first I felt apprehensive, but the school has done all they can to mitigate against the risk. Many families have chosen to keep their children at home for fear of a second spike.
There are also families who have felt relieved to send their kids back. School is vital to promote mental health, learning and socialisation (particularly for younger children). Just recently, the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) sent a letter to the Government urging them to release plans to get kids back in school, citing the emotional, social and health impacts of the pandemic as seriously affecting young people’s mental health. My daughter very quickly became disenchanted with lockdown, refusing to do any home schooling; her behaviour became erratic, emotional and more difficult as time went on. Seeing her friends and having a normal school routine has returned some balance. In short, school is good for the soul. Not only because of the learning, but mainly because of all the extra stuff the children get to do – singing, playing, chatting, laughing. Normal everyday behaviours that will help them cope with any further effects the pandemic may deliver.
If you are worried about sending your child back, chat with teachers and other parents. It’s clear that schools have been overwhelmed with conflicting Government guidance, and schools and their students are unique. My daughter’s school is a small inner city primary, with no extra outdoor space for temporary buildings to allow for additional social distancing. But I know they will try their best to keep the classes separate and promote healthy behaviours like hand washing. Classrooms may look and feel very different, but the warmth and willingness from the teachers will mean that most kids don’t even notice, they are just happy for things to be returning to normal.
Anna Woolf, Marketing Consultant and mama to Alba 5, and Luna 1.
Read next: Preparing your child for school.