The Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families created a practical guide to support pupils and students to manage change during periods of disruption.
Since the lockdown caused by the coronavirus, schools have been working on supporting the well-being of children and young people. A new step in this process is the preparation for going back to school under such uncertain circumstances.
The social arrangements and rituals that normally help pupils to adapt to changes (exams, saying goodbye to friends, farewell ceremonies at the end of primary or secondary school etc.) have been cancelled, making the transition to new circumstances even harder than usual. How can schools, parents, and carers help pupils to manage changes?
Here are some evidence-based actions to do:
- Avoid unrealistic promises about the future but encourage optimism and hope.
- Be open to discussions about concerns, remind pupils that being anxious or worried is normal, and work on home-based self-management strategies.
- Give pupils the opportunity to celebrate and share their accomplishments e.g. through providing them certificates or yearbooks.
- Sustain social ties (even online), to help pupils feel connected and supported.
- Help pupils to prepare for new beginnings. For example. parents can have supporting conversations at home about secondary school or schools can post welcome packs for first-year students virtually on their website.
A good example: Goldfield Infants’ and Nursery School started an art project involving children, parents, and school staff with the slogan ‘we stand together even though we are apart’ to sustain contact and provide a platform for emotional support.