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How to help your child return to school after COVID-19

Cher_ScopeCher_Scope Posts: 3,316

Scope community team

Scope's Activities for All team have put together a list of resources to help parents and children with the return back to school this September.  Please feel free to have a browse and let us know if you have any questions.

Transitions back to school

This Youtube video is a recording of a workshop that discusses preparing children for the return to school.

You may have worries of your own such as: 
  • Grief/loss over changes in lifestyle 
  • Normal won’t be the same as before COVID-19 
  • Return to other worries in school e.g. anxiety/fear of returning 
  • Feeling safe at home  
  • Fear of COVID-19  
If you're a parent or carer, to help you be more informed and to put your mind at ease you might like to read the following:

It is also very normal for children and young people to experience re-entry anxiety following a pandemic, so see below for some tips on how you can support a child when they go back to school.

pile of books an apple and alphabet blocks

Tips on how you can support the transition back to school 

Focus on normal positive experiences outdoors

  • Look at other ways to interact and socialise as a household
  • Go for a walk, or do a scavenger hunt in the garden
  • Go for a takeaway ice cream or a picnic in the park
  • Reward your child, and make time at weekends, breaks, and lunchtimes to do things that they enjoy, even with restrictions in place 
  • Save the Children have a fantastic resource on activities to enjoy if you're stuck for ideas

Start a routine

  • Planning routines before the start of back-to-school transitions is key.
  • A timetable using PECS or their preferred communication method within the home will help before school
  • This could include using a PECS feelings board or PECS timetable

Build relationships with the school and new friends virtually

  • Show the child orientation videos or maps of the school
  • Hold a Zoom meet up with the teacher
  • Hold friendship Zooms with activities for the children to engage in and enjoy
  • Ask keyworkers and teachers to send photos of themselves. Children and parents can get involved with this too!

Social stories

Social stories are a great way for children and young people to understand and personalise change. You can personalise social stories with help from the school. When transitioning to school, you can include a school picture. Also, social distancing can be shown through a story to help them understand why they need to keep distance between others. You can also include other ways to safely gain social contact in the story.

Young boy wearing headphones

How else can I help my child when adjusting to this 'new normal'?

Hygiene and sleep

  • Look at government guidelines and adopt at home 
  • There is a social story on regular hand washing you can use to encourage your child to wash their hands
  • You could access Scope's sleep right service to support you to ensure your child is getting a restful night's sleep and create a sleep routine which fits in with the school day 

Take small manageable steps

  • Build Resilience- take time for yourself as a parent. Use a resilience framework, or look at our Parents Connect resilience workshop. Email [email protected] for more details
  • Be available, curious, and open- be there for your child or young person to talk to and express feelings by using their own methods of communication
  • Ask open questions, and actively listen to understand more about your child’s thoughts and feelings. Help them  think of ways to manage these thoughts and feelings using  Scope’s Time for  Us  pack,  or the resources on the  Family Links website.  This may be best during an activity they enjoy and can open without confrontation (e.g. baking, a bike ride, arts and crafts)

Learning through play

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  • Cher_ScopeCher_Scope Posts: 3,316

    Scope community team

    edited September 2020

    Here's a tip about how to make your walks more mindful to calm down children who might be unsettled.

    If you are able to get out for a walk once a day - rather than simply going from A to B, there are lots of ways to make it interesting and focus the mind on everything around you – an essential part of mindfulness. 

    Why not encourage your child to pick a particular type of wildlife and see how many you spot as you walk – e.g. how many birds can you see or hear? How many things can you see that are brown? You may have heard that a good way to help feel calmer if you ever feel anxious can be to acknowledge five things you can see around you, four things you can touch, three things you can hear, two you can smell and one you can taste – this same concept can be used on any day to bring your child’s attention to the present moment.

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  • janer1967janer1967 Member Posts: 9,101 Disability Gamechanger
    Thanks for sharing with us, I must admit I am a bit anxious about this topic, more for me than my son I will miss having him around all the time.

    He is excited about going back and seeing his friends, but he has put on quite a bit of weight over the lockdown and is worried he might get teased about it. He isnt a sensitive boy so hopefully he wont be bothered by it but will keep an eye on it and hope with more exercise he will shed some of the pounds.

    Im sure he wont be the only one either that this has happened to
  • Cher_ScopeCher_Scope Posts: 3,316

    Scope community team

    Aww how old is he @janer1967 My two nephews have put on a bit of weight too so I don't think he'll be alone. I think when they get back into the school routine and doing more exercise/play it'll come off.  

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  • janer1967janer1967 Member Posts: 9,101 Disability Gamechanger
    Her is 14 next Sunday he is the oldest in the year so also bigger than most of his mates, already 5 foot 9 and in size 10 adult shoes 

    He look about 17 or 18 so people expect more of him than his age 
  • Cher_ScopeCher_Scope Posts: 3,316

    Scope community team

    Oh he sounds like a grand lad! Happy birthday to him for next weekend too  :)

    It's good that he's not overly sensitive and I'm sure you'll notice if anythings amiss.  
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  • Chloe_ScopeChloe_Scope Scope Posts: 10,652 Disability Gamechanger
    edited September 2020

    Children with SEN and EHCPs

    Some schools may do a risk assessment for children with SEN or Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCP). They do not have to do an assessment but should contact you and involve you in plans for returning to school. They should also involve young people over 16 who have EHC plans.

    Your child should also get all the provision in their EHC plan in the new term. Flexibility in what schools can provide during coronavirus has now stopped. They must provide full EHCP provision and SEN support to students.

    Contact the school by phone or email if they have not contacted you.

    Delays to EHCP assessments

    Ask your local authority to explain why if they tell you there are delays to your child’s EHCP assessment. EHCP assessments should be continuing as normal and must be completed within 6 weeks.

    Contact your parent support service if they do not give you an explanation.

    SEN support and EHCPs

    Education health and care plans legislation changes (GOV.UK)

    Face masks at school

    Years 7 and above may also need to wear face masks or coverings. It’s up to the school to decide if they will use face masks and where students should wear a mask. For example, in common rooms where students cannot stay 1 metre apart.

    Children with certain health conditions will not have to wear a mask.

    Face coverings in education (GOV.UK)

    Face masks and PPE

    Talking to your child’s school

    Organise a call or video call with your child’s SENCO, ALNCO or teachers to talk about returning to school.

    If English is not your first language or you use British Sign Language (BSL), ask what support is available for you to arrange a meeting so that you’re comfortable.

    You may want to ask:

    • what safety measures will be in place, like face masks and social distancing
    • which staff will work with your child and how they can get to know them before returning
    • if transport will be available, for example if your child usually takes the school bus
    • what other changes your child should expect 
    • what you can do to prepare your child for returning to school

    You could also share any concerns you have, like:

    • changes to your child’s routine
    • your child falling behind or feeling unprepared for the new school year
    • their transition to a new school
    • not enough educational support when they return
    • how they’ll socialise safely with other children
    • how the situation will affect their wellbeing and the rest of your family

    If you have a difficult relationship with the school, try to keep the focus on your child’s wellbeing. Say that you’d like to work with them to make sure your child can return smoothly. For example, you could keep a diary to show how your child is coping at the moment.

    If your child is older, ask if they want to be on the call with you. Let the school know if they do, and if they have specific worries or triggers at the moment.

    If your child is moving to a different school, try to organise a video call with staff from both. Ask what the schools are doing if they can no longer offer transition days to students.

    Get support from Contact (

    How to do video calls (Age UK)

    Contact your parent support service

    If your school is unsure how they can help your child return to school, contact your local authority’s independent parent support service.

    The service may have a different name depending on your area. They’re sometimes called:

    • Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Information Advice and Support Service (SENDIASS)
    • Information Advice and Support Service (IASS)
    • Parent Partnership Service

    Services may be running differently at the moment, and you may have to wait for them to get back to you. Contact them by email if you cannot reach them by phone.

    Get support from parents in similar situations (mumsnet)

    Find your local authority (GOV.UK)

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