Schools are being asked to open their doors again on 8th March (with different dates for Wales, Scotland, Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland), and with that comes added complications and new things to consider, first and foremost implementing a recovery curriculum. Add in the fact that children may feel anxious, worried and upset – the lack of freedom they’ve had, and the disruption to their routines, and it’s definitely not going to be an easy time. That said, it’s also a time of wonderfulness – teaching staff seeing their beloved children again and being part of their life journey through this tricky time. Schools have a unique opportunity to play a big part in children’s lives right now, and help them adjust to the new “normal” – which hopefully now that we have a vaccine, won’t last for too long!
Schools have NOT been closed
One thing we should all remember is that schools have not been shut, and many school staff have also been working through weekends and holidays working tirelessly to prepare lessons not only for children in school, but also for live lessons – basically doubling their workload.
School staff have been through a lot themselves and are possibly worn down and tired out by the whole experience – something to keep in mind for school leaders who should be having a big push on staff wellbeing on the return to school. There has been a lot of new things to learn, and so much uncertainty with things changing from one day to the next. Add in the fact that many school staff still have not been vaccinated despite being on the front line when it comes to exposure to the virus. A lot to feel uneasy about!
A new normal?
Another thing to remember is that things are NOT back to normal, and even when the lockdown lifts completely, it will probably be a new normal. We might want to consider that perhaps we don’t want to go back to the old normal – as it wasn’t really working for many people, and we can take insights and new learning about ourselves, and society in general from our experiences over the past few weeks. We must acknowledge – both to children and to ourselves – that we have lived through a historic time, and it will take time to adjust back to “normal”, whatever that might look like. For schools and teachers, it might be a good time to think carefully about how the community wants to get back to “normal”, for example should there be more of an emphasis on play-based learning, on pastoral support and the whole child, and less about preparation for tests, and worrying about Ofsted? Coupled with that, parents may decide that home education was actually working better both for the child and the whole family, and may wish to continue. All things to consider in the next few months.
With the return to school comes the return to routines – and that will take time to adjust to. Mixing with other children and adults, getting up at a certain time and getting back to following rules and fitting into timescales. This will take time, just like it does at the start of a new term – but this time it will be on a bigger scale since there may be anxiety, bereavement, and the trauma of the past few months to deal with. Also to consider is that some staff and children will have been in school for much of the lockdown, and they will need time to readjust too.
What will children have learned during lockdown?
Huge differences in learning experiences outside of school will also have taken place, with some children engaged in learning life skills, and some engaging in sit down formal learning each day. Some children may have done no formal learning at all. It all very much depends on the parent’s ability to work, teach, and engage their child – consider also that many families have multiple children, and trying to work from home and keep several children on task is virtually impossible. In many families there may only be one computer, and so access to online learning resources will have been limited. It might be wise to simply assume that hardly any “formal” learning has taken place, whilst acknowledging that plenty of other types of learning – empathy, baking, cooking, budgeting, tying a shoelace, learning to ride a bike, caring for others, social skills, turn taking etc – have occurred and been hugely beneficial too!
The key here is relationships.
Talking. Listening. Understanding. Giving children the chance to talk through – if they’re able – the complex emotions that will have built up over the past few months. It’s possible that children have had a whale of a time, but barely anyone will have been untouched by worries about health and the future. Children manage their emotions often quite differently to adults, and it’s important to keep them talking, to try to comfort and calm as well as acknowledging what they’ve been through as very real.
Resources for returning to school post lockdown
Here at Mrs Mactivity we’ve been busy making lots of resources to try to help children process the past few months, whilst celebrating positive things that have happened, and thinking hopefully about the future. Have a look at post lockdown teaching resources, to help bring back SOME sense of normality.
This post lockdown return to school checklist has been developed by an experienced classroom teacher and covers everything you might not have thought about including wellbeing, supplies and more!
Our Rose returns to school social story, is a beautiful tale of a real life girl who was worried about going back to school after lockdown. She had been a bit lonely at home without her friends but still, she was nervous about returning to school. Written and hand-drawn by us!
Our return to school after lockdown presentation has been really popular – and it’s because it’s so awesome! It perfectly explains so children exactly what’s been going on during lockdown, and what has changed, and what has stayed the same. The perfect first week back after lockdown activity.
Help children get to know each other again after this long period apart with our post lockdown getting to know each other game suggestions – tried and tested by us!
Help children understand what a class bubble is with our class bubble display poster – a great way to explain class bubbles in non scary language.
We’ve come up with loads of outdoor games ideas for social distancing ideas that are so fun that children won’t even realise they’re distancing!
As much as we may not like having to tell children to social distance, you might find this poster a nice way of making it seem like a game! This social distancing poster for kids can be displayed in your classroom or school reception area, as a way to remind children about social distancing without making it seem scary.
Let’s face it, children’s attention spans may not be the best when they return to school after lockdown, so our post lockdown speaking and listening games will not only be fun, but will serve an educational purpose too!
Children’s wellbeing should be at the forefront of all our minds right now, and this post lockdown mindfulness activity sheet has everything you need to help children focus on the here and now, and their mental wellbeing.
Another brilliant post lockdown pupil wellbeing activity, help children recognise their feelings about lockdown so they can process complex emotions.
We’ve all learned a few things about ourselves during lockdown, and this things I’ve learned about myself sheet is a great way of capturing that self learning.
Our post lockdown reflection posters are a great way for children to depict their experiences through the medium of art. Some children may struggle to verbalise their experiences, and drawing is a brilliant alternative.
For children who prefer to write about their feelings, this lockdown reflection writing activity provides a differentiated way for children to share their lockdown experiences. Send home to parents to keep as part of a their COVID time capsule.
If you’re keen to help children feel cohesive, as part of a class again (even if they’re not together all the time), this lockdown jigsaw activity helps children share their individual experiences whilst feeling part of something bigger. It’s great for display too!
In the same vein, these post lockdown memory jars are another great way to capture memories of what we have to admit is a historic occasion. Save and then look back on them in 12 months!
It’s important with children to focus in on the positive, and our post lockdown positivity activity sheets are ideal – as good things can and do also come from a crisis!
Finally our post lockdown certificates are a great way to recognise how wonderfully our children have done over the past few months. Maybe award them to a few adults too!