Tips for parents who have decided not to send your child back to school on 1 June.
If your children are not going back to school with their peers and, even if they are happy to stay at home, parents should be aware that they might not find it fair that they can’t see their friends. They might imagine that their friends will all be having a good time and learning while they remain isolated at home. Children, who are upset because they want to go back and are not allowed, will express their distress more visibly than those who are happy to stay at home; but they may still feel that they are missing out.
If you have chosen to keep your child at home, is recommended that you explain why s/he is not able to go back, in language that s/he can understand. Remember that your anxiety can transfer unconsciously to others; so try to keep as calm, rational, honest and transparent as possible without frightening your child..
Give your child plenty of time to ask you questions and try to be as honest as possible, without frightening him/her. If s/he understands that there are good reasons why s/he has to stay at home s/he will accept it more easily.
Ask your child what would make it easier for him/her. Is there anything you could do to help him/her feel better about the situation?
It is important for your child to know that there will be a time when s/he can go back to school and see his/her friends again; and that until then, you will do your best to help
him/ her stay in contact with his/her friends and help him/her with his/her work so that s/he doesn’t fall behind.
If your child is in Year 6:
Parents need to be mindful that s/he will be missing out on the rite of passage of transition in to the senior school. S/he will miss out on saying goodbye to his/her friends and teachers if s/he is starting a new school in September. You could tell your child that, even if s/he doesn’t go back to school until September, this is the normal time to start senior school and that it will be good to start afresh. Many schools will put on an event for the leavers in the Autumn Term to help make up for the lack of ending in the Summer Term.
It might help if parents could mark the transition with a ritual or celebration at home in some way. You could make a scrapbook with photos and other memorabilia that you have kept from your child's time at school, for example. Maybe you could have a special family meal to celebrate the end of school and/or arrange a ‘party’ via Zoom or other platform with your child's friends at the end of term.
What to do if your child acts out:
Even after all your efforts, there may be children who still feel that it isn’t fair that aren’t going back to school. Some may act out. If your child does act out, try to keep as calm as possible and, as long as s/he is safe, let him/her have his/her outburst without saying anything. Once s/he has calmed down, you can speak to him/her. It is very important that you empathise, listen and show your child that you understand how hard it must be for him/her. Ask him/her what is particularly upsetting for him/her. If you understand what is troubling your child, you will have a greater chance of helping him/her.
How to deal with FOMO (or fear of missing out)!
Children will naturally be worried that they are missing out and that their peers are having a much better time than they are.
Explain to your child that not all his/her friends will be together, as they will be in small groups, which may not be based on friendships.
Explain that they can still have contact with their friends and can keep up to date with the gossip.
Explain to your child that true friends will remain friends even if they don’t physically see each other.
Encourage your child to stay in touch with his/her friends. S/he might even become important as a ‘counsellor’ to his/her friends, or as the mediator of any disputes.
Explain that your child will be involved in classes and activities and that his/her teachers will make sure that s/he doesn’t miss out on any work.
Make sure that, each day, you give your child plenty of quality time to talk and tell you any fears or anxieties s/he may have. Most children will probably accept the situation without any problem. There may be a few, however who, as a result of wanting to please you, may mask their true feelings so as not to upset you. If you have been speaking to your child regularly, you will quickly discover changes of mood or any issues.