Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, schools were only allowed to have 50% of scholars attend school, while the other 50% attended on an alternative day.
Over the past few weeks, many schools welcomed 100% of their learners back to school following a mandate from the Department of Basic Education to resume daily attendance.
While learners are excited to return to school, changing their routine from rotation to daily attendance has been an ambivalent adjustment, especially for parents, as a change in routine can make children feel anxious.
Many scholars have a hard time starting school, either for the first time or after a long break. But amid the COVID-19 pandemic with schools shutting down off and on and some only reopening part-time if at all, parents face a new challenge in sending off children, who have grown accustomed to attending online classes at home, to school.
Parents can help ease the back-to-school jitters by assuring their children about the health and safety measures taken to protect them at school, says Gugu Mlambo Principal at SPARK Theresa Park.
Here are 5 tips that can help you help your child adjust to a daily routine:
- Health & safety talk
Parents should talk to their children about their role in protecting themselves and others, such as mask-wearing and regular hand hygiene. These conversations need to be centered around general health and safety and also teach their children how they can still show love and affection to their friends while maintaining social distancing.
- Creating a supportive environment
Create a supportive and nurturing environment and respond positively to questions and expressions of their feelings. Show support and let your child know that it’s not only okay but normal, to feel frustrated or anxious at times like this.
- Sticking to routines
Gradually get back into school year structure and ensure you help your children to stick to their routines. Make learning playful by incorporating it into everyday activities like cooking, family reading time, or games.
- Encourage social connections
Continue to encourage your child to stay social with their friends and peers. This will help
them feel more connected by the time they get back to school. Ideally, this involves face-to-face
connections outside, as per COVID-19 physical distancing.
- Continue helping them cope
Model healthy coping and stay connected to your children. Children will always copy what they see from adults. Also, they do best when they feel loved by their caregivers, which happens
when you spend quality time with them and listen, validate, and empathize with their feelings (as
opposed to seeing adults as being angry, upset, and emotionally unavailable to them).
“Our staff are constantly vigilant around the schools and are ensuring that health and safety is a priority, especially in class and during our five core daily procedures – arrivals, Sparks Fly, transitions, lunch/break, and dismissals,” said Mlambo.