The back-to-school season is traditionally a time of mixed emotions – sadness that the summer is over, fear of change, trepidation at new challenges, excitement to see school friends and teachers and nervousness around school performance.
Add into the mix that children have been away from school for five months, and we’re looking at a much longer absence than normal. Here are some tips to help make the long-awaited transition as smooth as possible.
1. Talk About Feelings
Parents can help their children talk about their feelings and help them acknowledge the changes they need to face – starting a new school, moving up a grade, having new teachers and/or social circles.
Depending on the child’s age, parents can help provide information about upcoming transitions or encourage them to gather information themselves. Pictures of the new school environment/teachers and/or a virtual tour can help children gain a sense of familiarity.
Invite them to identify a few things they are looking forward to or curious about and encourage them to talk about their worries. Parents could show support by listening with curiosity, asking open-ended questions without jumping to a solution or a judgmental statement, and affirming the child’s ability to adjust.
2. Re-Adjust the Daily Schedules
With the holidays over, it is time to re-adjust the daily schedules to align with the school routine. Make sure children have sufficient sleep and make time for reading and finishing any school assignments over the break.
For example, if you go to bed late in the summer vacation, start to adjust the sleeping time forward by half an hour every day and make sure you are back to your term time routine a few days before school starts. At the same time, you should also adjust the dinner time to the normal school time.
For children that are not early birds, consider having the child plan ahead to make the morning time feel easier; have everything packed, prepare things to wear in the morning, plan for breakfast, and maybe arrange a playlist to start the day.
3. Adhere to COVID Guidelines
With COVID still making an impact, returning to class may provoke a sense of uncertainty and ambiguity. To prepare for this, parents can first stay tuned into the most recent COVID guidelines and school policies, and also remain transparent with their children.
Parents can help remind and/or educate their children to take protective measures as they return to school in person, and allow a space for them to ask questions and provide assurance if needed.
Here are some simple rules to follow:
Wear a mask when going out.
Wash hands frequently every day.
Avoid gatherings on the way to and from school.
Strictly observe the one-meter rule.
Keep indoor spaces well ventilated.
Stick to individual dishes rather than shared plates.
Drink plenty of water.
4. Prepare for All Eventualities
Hearing the news that school will start normally on September 1 was a relief for both adults and children. Thinking of all those months of online learning, who is not afraid to do it again? However, parents displaying anxiety about the possibility will be projected on the children. The best way to avoid anxiety is to be well prepared.
Parents should communicate with their children their reservations, and talk about what will happen under various scenarios. If A happens, how do we deal with it? If B happens, how will our family face it?
In addition, parents themselves should be prepared, maintain flexibility and make sure children can comfortably communicate with them for reassurance and encouragement.
5. Respond Patiently & Positively to Negativity
“I don't want to go to school, but I want to see XXX again.” When a child has such complaints, parents should first be happy that the child trusts you and is willing to communicate with you.
When children complain or show concern about campus life they haven't experienced for a long time, the conversation that we have with them should not be purposeful and directional; don't expect to ‘solve the problem’ immediately.
Instead, we should start chatting with the children and be prepared psychologically. The conversation may be conducted many times.
Child: I don't want to go to school.
Adult: Oh, why? What's up?
Maybe this conversation is over here. Next time, parents can ask: When I talked with you last time, I was curious why you didn't give a reason. Is it a great pressure?
It should be understood that children's emotions are very complex, and it is difficult for children to open them. Sometimes they don't want to speak, and sometimes they can’t speak clearly. Be patient and give them the time to talk it through.
6. Watch for Mood or Behavioral Change
If children show signs of significant mood or behavioral change (e.g., increased irritability, difficulty getting out of bed, or decrease in activity engagement), encourage them to seek professional help.
7. Prevent Sports Injuries
Pay attention to preventing sports injuries inside and outside school after the term starts:
Warm up properly before exercise, so that the joint muscles can be stretched and relaxed, so as to prevent muscle stretching injury caused by sudden exercise.
Do not take vigorous exercise for half an hour after you have eaten to prevent abdominal pain and indigestion.
When fasting, do not exercise vigorously to avoid hypoglycemia.
Do not over exercise; it is all too easy to cause children's muscle spasm and injury.
Wear protective equipment for special sports.
Avoid exercising when sick.
If a child suffers from sports injury, ice compress should be applied in time at the initial stage to reduce the edema and pain of the injury; in the later stage of sports injury, hot compress should be used to promote blood circulation, so as to speed up the repair of injury.
If necessary, seek medical attention in time.
8. Get a Physical Examination
Go and get a physical examination before the start of school, including blood pressure, vision, height, weight, etc.
Children's eyesight needs to be paid attention to, so as to avoid losing sight of the teacher and the blackboard and affecting their learning. Before the start of school, it is necessary to check the eyesight, and prevent and control myopia in a timely manner, regardless of whether there is any apparent eyesight problem.
If a child's hearing is poor and they cannot concentrate on listening at school, their academic performance will be affected. If the child has the following conditions, parents should pay attention to and take the child to the otolaryngology department in time:
Asks others to repeat their words
Turns the volume of TV and radio very high
Tilts their head when watching TV and puts their ears close to the TV
Does not hear the birds singing
No response to the telephone ringing, door bell, etc.
Usually children snore and breathe at night, which will affect their mental state during the day and make them tired and sleepy. Get the doctor to check whether the child has nasal turbinate problems, nasal septum problems, tonsil or adenoid hypertrophy, etc. resulting in poor ventilation.
In serious cases, surgery can be performed. Or, if the child’s rhinitis is serious, resulting in poor ventilation, drug treatment and desensitization treatment can be done according to the situation.
Physical Examination Packages
United Family hospitals in both Pudong and Puxi currently have a series of packages for the beginning of school, including physical examination packages for different ages and vaccine packages.
Many schools and kindergartens will issue forms to require doctors to fill in after the examination, and the hospitals have been extremely busy recently, so make an appointment as soon as possible.
For more information or online appointments please scan below QR or call 400 639 3900.