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How to talk with your child about going back to the classroom

Families prepare for return to school despite uncertainty


Dr Nadia Ramoutar

Dr Nadia Ramoutar

Dr Nadia Ramoutar

With over four weeks to go until the start of the new school year, some parents may struggling with how to talk to their child about returning to school.

While there is still a lot of uncertainty about the guidelines for schools re-opening in September, parents and youngster may have very different responses to the idea of back to school after being home since March.

Communications expert, Dr Nadia Ramoutar, suggests parents will need to be mindful of these issues in the coming weeks when chatting to their children about going back to school.

'It might be helpful to realise that parents might have one reaction to this, and children might have another reaction. Not all parents and children will have the same reaction. Some children really liked not going to school and some children really missed it.'

The last few months of working from home and home schooling have been challenging for all parents, particularly those who have children with complex needs.

The closure of schools on March 12 was sudden and this could have had an impact on parents and children alike. But, reopening schools is likely to different because parents, children and schools should have time to prepare.

Dr Ramoutar, who is based in Arklow, said there is an important distinction to be made between the situation in March and the circumstances now.

'We were told schools are closing and they are closing now, we were all a bit traumatised by the way it happened. At least now, we need to focus on the fact that we will have time to deal with whatever is going to happen,

'I don't think it's exactly the same as March and we need to see that now is different from then.'

Dr Ramoutar also offers some tips when parents are talking to their children about going back to school. She suggests parents focus on giving their children information that is age-appropriate and at a level that they can process.

'I think parents need to be careful not to traumatise or scare young children by saying too much. Think "what's age-appropriate for that child to know?" Try to also anticipate what your child's losses might be in what you're saying. For example, if your child has loved being at home in their pyjamas for months, then you need to be aware of that when you are talking to them.

'There is a certain amount of this that requires you to put yourself in your child's shoes for a minute and think how are they going to deal with this. I think that's a big mistake we as parents make. We are so busy and have so much going on that we forget to stop and put ourselves in our child's shoes and where the child will be on this.'

She also suggests parents try to be as honest with their children that the decisions about the schools reopening are out of their hands.

'It's important to let children know that these choices are not being made by us, but we have to go along with those decisions because they are the best for everyone,'

Parents also may need to consider how they are feeling before talking to their child.

'You are only human and will be impacted by what is going to happen. You have to acknowledge that in some sort of way... make sure you are okay before you start talking to your children about it because they are going to take their cues from you. If you're stressed, anxious or worked up, the children is going to pick that up. So make sure in your communication, you are in a good space as well,' Dr Ramoutar added.

Bray People