Supporting Pupils Going Back to School After Lockdown

back 2 school

Supporting Pupils After Lockdown

Teachers and children are to reunite in the classroom once again! 

As the update came from the Prime Minister on 22nd Feb 2021, all schools are to re-open on the 8th March 2021. 

With all the uncertainty looming of what will happen when children go back to school. Keep in mind it can be a stressful and daunting time for pupils as well. For this reason, we have devised some tips and resources for how to support pupils after lockdown and get them back into the mindset of going back to school. 

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Table of Contents

Things to keep in mind

  • One size does not fit all 
    • Different pupils within the same class will have very different experiences of the pandemic. They will also have varying levels of coping skills and resilience in dealing with those experiences. 
  • You are a part of a team 
    • Some of the challenges facing you as a teacher may feel overwhelming, but other teachers in your school, community and around the world are facing the same issues. 
  • Different emotional responses 
    • Children and young people will respond in different ways to challenging experiences. The same child may display different responses from day-to-day.    
  • Do not dismiss concerning behaviour  
    • When something momentous happens, it can be tempting to see everything in that context. However, ignoring the signs that something more serious is going on can be detrimental to a pupil’s wellbeing. 
  • Learning- take your time 
    • Pupils may not feel able to learn at the same pace as they have done before. 
  • Attachments are disconnected 
    • If relationships with others (friends, peers, adults) have been strained, disrupted or suspended completely children and young people will likely experience a level of emotional distress. 

Acknowledge what has happened

It is important that students acknowledge the scale of coronavirus and what they are going through.  

  • Highlighting what people have gone through to keep the community going, restrictions and of course loss will be hard.  
    • You may need to go further and offer a clear and sensitive explanation of any developments in the pandemic – some pupils may not be as well informed by their care-givers about the situation as others. 
  • Try looking at Axel Scheffler’s book on the coronavirus and read together, this may highlight topics of interest that students feel they want to express and talk about with the class. 
  • Also, with the worksheet below pupils can write their own experience of coronavirus and what they have done to #staysafe. 
Supporting pupils

Let Them Talk

Supporting pupils

Leading on from acknowledging what has happened, students may have a lot of questions and thoughts about the virus. Balancing educational and more vocational/creative lessons can be key to executing a place where students can explore their questions and thoughts. 

  • Extended “circle time” gives a chance for you to check-in with the whole class. This is also, a helpful way of sharing experiences and re-establishing PSHE skills such as listening to others, turn-taking and concentration– essentially supporting each other. 

BONUS – Offer individuals to talk! It is important to offer time for a student to talk to you individually any chance to reconnect or talk through emotions privately is beneficial during this time. 

  • You can do this by offering “office hours” where students are free to come to talk to about worries on a one-to-one basis. 
  • Or create “check-in” schedules to keep up to date on the mental wellbeing of all your students.

Be Positive

While it is good to re-cap and reflect on what has happened during covid it is wise to implement a practical approach to the future which in turn will be helpful. 

Focusing on building on existing and new relationships with class mates and confidence within students will help alleviate some of the worry that students may experience while coming back to school.

Concentrate on the positives that have come from the pandemic for example; less cars on the road equates to less pollution which is beneficial for the environment. 

  • In groups get your class to come up with five examples of how the pandemic has been beneficial and how we can encourage this to keep being beneficial.

Use the worksheet down below for your students to write down their ideas and collaborate together. 

be positive - wellbeing resource-PSHE

Build Connections

A sense of belonging in the school community has been broken during lockdown for some students, this will be quite challenging. 

Coming to terms with being able to re-connect with others again can be re-enforced with activities that your class or the whole school can get involved in. 

  • Welcome back packs– This is an amazing way to build that connection back up between the pupils and the school community. Include a note, some stationary supplies and sweets to make them feel welcome back to school and that they don’t have to feel as stressed. 
  • Scavenger Hunts- For pupils to complete in teams, with different activities and puzzles – some might involve writing, drawing, physical challenges, problem solving or logic. 

Art

Art takes up many forms and mediums and can be used to help one express themselves about their worries, concerns and struggles. Within a classroom environment art, drama and music can help to start discussions and make students feel a sense of community by bringing them together.

Creating a piece of art as a whole class (or even the whole school as part of a display) can help build connections and a sense of community within the class. 

  • For example, a simple hand print art activity (for all student’s abilitieswhere students can individually have a hand print represent them in the class can remind the students of the class’s joint identity and that they are part of a wider community. 

Using music while talking in the classroom can help reduce the stress and anxiety of students sharing their ideas. 

  • Mindful Music features songs that are designed for younger children to express their feelings more freely. Including sing-a-longs which can be used in assembly’s and circle time. 
primary school phse
wellbeing resource-PSHE

Mindfulness Exercises

As we have mentioned before in this blog students may be dealing with more worries, negative thoughts and stress than usual.  

Mindfulness is a great way to help manage those feelings. Remember to incorporate the message of that it is important to focus and learn on what it happening right now- dwelling on the past or worrying about the future can lead to unhappy lifestyle and make worries worse. 

wellbeing resource-PSHE
  • Leading the class in short breathing exercises, you can check out a list of techniques here. Remind them that they can use this to help them focus not just in the classroom but at home as well. 
  • Getting students to write down a list of things that make them worried can also, be helpful. 
    • Start of getting your students to write down their list of worries. 
    • Then get them to think about someone or something that makes them feel safe. 
    • After get them to write down the senses that they are feeling in this particular moment (what can they see, hear, taste, smell or feel?) 
  • Use the Timeout” System in a positive and flexible way- so students can take quiet time to reflect, read or have time away from others. Having this space can evoke personal growth within students and establishing and learning about their emotions independently. 
  • Worry Jar or Post Box where children can write down their worries and concerns sharing them with you can let you know how they are feeling but also gives more shy students a chance to be able to express their feelings. 

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