Resources for a therapeutic return to school after lockdown (Covid-19)

Please note that many of these resources were written after the first lockdown in 2020 so not everything will be applicable.  Much of the advice and suggestions, however, will still be useful.

For parents/carers and their children

Children may have lots of different feelings about going back to school after lockdown. Help your child fill in the boxes on this one-page sheet to explore these feelings, and anything they’re worried about.

Many of your child’s relationships that were strong before the lockdown may need to be rebuilt. Use this activity to get your child thinking positively about renewing friendships with classmates and being back at school.

The Children's Commissioner's Going back to school guide for kids offers tips to help children cope if they’re feeling worried. There is space for them to write about things that are worrying them. NB secondary school children will now be expected to wear masks in class until at least Easter.

Going back to school after the Covid-19 lockdown, or after a period of quarantine or self-isolation, is an experience none of us have had to go through before prior to 2020. Caroline Yolland, a school counsellor, shares her top tips. 

You or your child may be feeling a mix of emotions as you get ready to go back to school. Here are some tips to help you from BBC Bitesize.

As you or your child settle back into school after lockdown, things may feel a bit strange. There may be new teachers, new rules to follow, and you or your child may find that some of  friendships feel different or that some of your friends are no longer in your class. If you’re struggling to cope with changes in your friendship groups, check out the advice given here.

As schools begin to open to more children, parents and children may be feeling anxious. Trauma Informed Schools suggest some ideas of how best to prepare.

As the return to school approaches, the prospect of being around others may be daunting after the experience of lockdown. Some, whether adult, teenager or child, may have spent extended periods shielding, isolating from their friends and family. Even those viewing the return with anticipation and excitement may also suffer with underlying fears about safety. Anxiety is not always easy to spot and can be masked by other emotions and behaviours and we may not recognise the fears that sit beneath. Trauma Informed Schools explain some of the things to look out for, and ways of responding.

Going back to school after the holidays is always a big day – for children and their parents! And with children having spent more time at home due to the extended break, it may seem a bit more daunting than usual. But there are things you can do to get them ready to go back. Includes videos. Nine top tips from Parent Club in Scotland.

After so long juggling day-to-day life with primary schools closed, you may have mixed emotions about schools reopening, and feeling a bit out of practice when it comes to the school routine. It may feel a bit daunting for your child too. It’s perfectly natural for your child to have lots of questions. Parent Club in Scotland have pulled together information, advice and tips to tackle any worries about going back to primary school. In question and answer format, with videos.

School can feel like a scary place whatever age you are. And even more so now during the coronavirus (COVID-19). We’ve got advice to help. Includes a section on returning to school.

Slides from a mental health workshop for parents covering Common worries when going back to school after an unusual period of absence • How might anxiety manifest? • What can we do to help?

After being off school for so long, it is only natural that many young people will be worried about returning to school. YoungMinds Parents Helpline experts share their tips for supporting a child in the transition back to school life.

A therapeutic story to help primary children to explore feelings relating to a return to school during the coronavirus pandemic. Therapeutic stories are designed to help children to explore and understand feelings.  Nottinghamshire Educational Psychology Service have written this story to help children to explore the feelings they may be having and witnessing during the return to school transition during the coronavirus pandemic.

Foster carers and adoptive parents

 

While school opening arrangements will vary across the four nations, this blog from The Fostering Network offers foster carers suggestions on how to smooth the process for children and young people.

.This leaflet will provide  adoptive parents with some thoughts, ideas and strategies to support you to prepare their child to transition back to school. NB This leaflet was written after the first lockdown and it is now a legal requirement that all children return to school as soon as their school fully reopens. However, the tips given may still be useful.

This pack from The Fostering Network is designed to help children and young people, foster carers and the whole team around the child reflect, plan and prepare as schools reopen.

Children will be going back to school on 8 March after a long break due to coronavirus. Going back to school after any break can present challenges for children and young people so it’s worth preparing with them. Here are some tips Action for Children for getting ready for your child’s first day back at school.

Your child may be feeling worried or anxious about what to expect when they go back to school. If your child has been diagnosed with anxiety, their feelings may seem overwhelming at times. Action for Children suggests some ways of talking it through with them and looking forward to the best bits.

Useful websites and videos

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Here you will find a range of resources, tools, videos and more to help you support your child’s journey going back to school in the Back to Scholl Sub-Hub, part of Barnardo's See, Hear, Respond Support Hub, a central place for you to explore, where you can find information, resources & tools - from practical advice on how to talk to your children about the pandemic, to tips on managing anxiety and much more.

For schools

Resources

General

This guide has been written by Open Ears' education team, including teachers and a school governor who understand and can empathise with you. The Open Ears Programme is a user-friendly, year-long PSHE curriculum  from Grief UK to develop lifelong skills to cope with bereavement, grief, and loss, incorporating feelings and emotional wellbeing, developing healthy relationships, and resilience into learning. They also have a number of 'tip sheets' that can be downloaded to help staff support each other and their pupils and their families.

Lockdown is easing and schools and colleges are starting to welcome increasing numbers of pupils back to their settings. Like any transition the return to school or college requires careful preparation and support. We know that a large number of pupils will adapt quickly and positively re-engage with their education. However, some pupils will need additional support to cope with change and build resilience.

This briefing uses insight from Childline counselling sessions and message boards to highlight children and young people’s experiences of being away from and returning to school during the coronavirus pandemic

This briefing from the NSPCC summarises government guidance on safeguarding and child protection for early years settings during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

This briefing summarises the latest guidance for UK schools on safeguarding and child protection during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

 The COVID-19 episode has exacerbated the need for high-quality and evidence-informed information to support education professionals to successfully re-engage pupils with learning after a period of disruption or trauma. This information is grounded in psychological research and theory and seeks to outline essential information in a clear and accessible manner that will be relevant to colleagues in different roles, including those in leadership or classroom-based and across different phases, including primary and secondary.

During the initial weeks back to school following the Covid 19 related school closures we might find that we face some tricky situations. Solihull Children's Services have thought of some of the common ones below and offer some advice on how you might manage them successfully.

How to respond effectively to the Corona crisis - a set of practical steps using the principles of acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT). It is also available in video format.

In this short briefing a coalition of children's charities set out a number of short, and longer term, actions that national Government, local authorities, and schools, could take to help mitigate the impact of the pandemic on children’s lives and ensure that education systems are strengthened and made more resilient for the future.

Research suggests that many children and young people can find the transition between schools unsettling and stressful. Following the current Public Health Crisis (Covid-19) it is likely that many children and young people will experience similar feelings when they return to school once social isolation ends, especially those who are vulnerable, have special educational needs, or are moving to a new school. The purpose of this guidance is therefore to provide advice on how schools can support their children and young people in managing this transition.

Lots of tips on preparing and supporting children before they return to school after the lockdown from Jess Richardson, Principal Clinical Psychologist, Maudsley CA|MHS.

This Back to School Support Pack from the PHSE Association is designed to help primary schools in welcoming their pupils back after school closures. Given the significant gaps in pupils’ attendance, varied approaches to home learning, and national concerns about the Covid-19 pandemic, schools will be starting this academic year with significant and unique challenges. This pack supports PSHE leads to develop a transition strategy for their PSHE education programme as part of a whole school approach to reintegration that safeguards pupils and promotes positive wellbeing. There are plenty of links to lesson plans and other resources.

This Back to School Support Pack from the PHSE Association is designed to help secondary schools in welcoming their pupils back after school closures. Given the significant gaps in pupils’ attendance, varied approaches to home learning, and national concerns about the Covid-19 pandemic, schools will be starting this academic year with significant and unique challenges. This pack supports PSHE leads to develop a transition strategy for their PSHE education programme as part of a whole school approach to reintegration that safeguards pupils and promotes positive wellbeing. There are plenty of links to lesson plans and other resources.

Mental health and wellbeing

We are all acutely aware of two questions at the moment as we are in the midst of the transition having reopened our schools to the whole school community: How can we manage to meet the mental health and wellbeing needs of our children, young people and families? How do we plan to recover the lost learning that may have been a result of the months of lockdown? You can also watch the accompanying video.

Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic the Fostering Network heard how fostering households across the UK quickly adapted to support children in these unprecedented times. Many foster carers assumed additional responsibilities and roles overnight: supporting children with home learning, supervising virtual contact with birth families in their own home, facilitating virtual social worker visits as well as all their usual fostering duties and responsibilities. To understand more about fostered children’s experiences of education during the pandemic they launched a rapid response survey for foster carers and fostering services across the UK. The survey results have helped provide an understanding about both the educational experience of fostered children during lockdown and their needs as they transition back to school.

This guidance aims to help school leaders and their staff, in all phases of education, support children and young people with their mental health and well-being in light of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, by outlining some universal approaches for all pupils and for with those with low-level mental health needs. Published by the NAHT in June 2020, there are plenty of links to other resources.

This guidance has been written by Optimus Education to help schools think about possible ways forward in terms of the emotional wellbeing and mental health of their pupils and staff over the next few months. It is based on best practice and the research and experiences of the authors.

Whether a pupil is struggling academically, emotionally or with safeguarding issues, staff need to be alert to warning signs. Adele Bates, a teacher, speaker, writer and educator for students with emotional and behavioural difficulties, SEMH: lockdown, transition and returndescribes what to look out for

For pupils with SEMH, the return to ‘normal’ school life could be challenging. Adele Bates considers what staff can expect and how to prepare. This article was written to co-inside with the start of the autumn term 2020, but is still very relevant to the March 2021 return.

This guide intends to be needs based, practical and flexible; allowing local areas and settings to make adaptations as relevant and enable education settings to provide appropriate levels of response to the identified needs during and after their phased reopening. It is understood that the culture and establishment of an emotionally healthy learning environment are vital and Senior Leadership Teams are key to this. The overarching approaches for returning to education focus on key areas such as relationships, recognition, regulation routine, and reflection. Written by Yorkshire & the Humber Children & Young People’s Mental Health Clinical Network in response to the first lockdown in 2020.

This guide from Headteacher Update magazine offers advice ahead of the wider opening of schools. It considers how the lockdown will have affected young people’s wellbeing and mental health, what challenges are expected to be seen as more students return, and how schools must respond. Written during the first lockdown in 2020.

This guide from Headteacher Update magazine offers advice ahead of the wider opening of schools. It considers how the lockdown will have affected young people’s wellbeing and mental health, what challenges are expected to be seen as more students return, and how schools must respond. Written during the first lockdown in 2020.

As schools reopen for all, one thing is certain; they will need to be therapeutic. We are living a financial catastrophe; a public health emergency; a mass community trauma. And trauma always falls hardest on still-developing children. The notion that they are naturally resilient is supported by none of the research evidence. Such wishful thinking only hampers proactive attempts to promote healing and recovery. Being fit for purpose must now mean placing wellbeing front and centre and evaluating every element of school policy and practice through that lens.

Children returning to school will have had very different experiences of lockdown and their behaviours will therefore present differently. The Coventry SEND Support Service delivered some training to SENCos looking at 'Emotional Responses in Children and Young People Returning to School and this can be viewed here. It is important to establish how each child is feeling in order to meet their individual needs.  

Young people returning to school will have had very different experiences of lockdown and their behaviours will therefore present differently. Coventry SEND Support Service suggest some ways  will help you to identify needs and support wellbeing of pupils returning to school.

Young people returning to school will have had very different experiences of lockdown and their behaviours will therefore present differently. Coventry SEND Support Service suggest some ways  will help you to identify needs and support wellbeing of pupils returning to school.

When the children return to school there needs to be a Recovery Curriculum in place. Suddenly daily routines have evaporated and with it, any known curriculum framework. No more rushing to get the school bag ready and running out of the door to begin the journey to school. For most children their daily goal in going to school is not just to learn but to see their friends and to feel a sense of self-worth that only a peer group can offer. You cannot underestimate the impact of the loss of that social interaction. It is as key to their holistic development as any lesson. Human beings are fundamentally social creatures, and the brain grows in the context meaningful human to human interaction. The common thread that runs through the current lived experiences of our children, is loss. The Recovery Curriculum is an essential construct for our thinking and our planning. There are also a number of podcasts to listen to and other resources on the Evidence for Learning website.

Trauma

This briefing from the NSPCC summarises government guidance on safeguarding and child protection for early years settings during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

This guide aims to help support schools in their return preparations to welcome staff students and the wider school community as restrictions start to lift. The whole school community has been through a huge period of upheaval with impacts on staff both personally and professionally. It uses a trauma informed perspective in recognition of this. It focuses on how we can safely relate in a time of social distancing. It includes plenty of links to further resources and videos around trauma.

As many schools are beginning to welcome more children back, we have been thinking about how best to support those who may be experiencing trauma. YoungMinds' guide on trauma informed practice has six principles that they encourage you to consider for when your pupils return to school.

A practical guide for primary school staff to help transition back to school. We all have a different experience of the pandemic we are living in. This guidance is for you to adapt and differentiate as appropriate. It accompanies the Collective Trauma Recovery webinars by Louise Michelle Bomber.

A practical guide for secondary school staff to help transition back to school. We all have a different experience of the pandemic we are living in. This guidance is for you to adapt and differentiate as appropriate. It accompanies the Collective Trauma Recovery webinars by Louise Michelle Bomber.

Some children and young people will have potentially traumatic experiences related to coronavirus. Many will recover from their experiences with support from family and friends, while others will need clinical intervention. This short guide outlines how the coronavirus pandemic may be potentially traumatic, the difference between normal reactions to a highly abnormal situations and reactions that could be considered more traumatic, and what adults around a child should do if they are concerned.

Children and young people who have previous experiences of trauma may respond to the coronavirus and the accompanying lockdown in distinct ways. It is important to understand how a child or young person may have adapted to past experiences and how these adaptations can be repaired through new, positive experiences — even during a crisis. But this is difficult and takes time.

Here are six helpful principles, based on psychological evidence, that can be used to support the psychological recovery of children and young people who have been affected directly or indirectly by coronavirus related illness. Exactly how these principles are best applied will be depend on various things, including who was affected by the coronavirus, how severely they were affected, and how old the child is.

The social-distancing measures that have been put in place as part of the response to COVID-19 have disrupted the normal routines of children and young people and curtailed their freedom. Some will have found this time traumatic. This short video, which has been prepared by SEND Support professionals, considers the reasons why some children may have found the lock down period traumatic, how their experience might influence their behaviour and the ways in which education professionals can aid recovery by promoting the five pillars of recovery from trauma. A PowerPoint presentation is also available. Five Pillars of Recovery from Trauma  have been identified and are laid out on this webpage from Coventry SEND Support Service. NB This page is also applicable to secondary schools staff

This document from Phoenix Education Consultancy Limited describes 9 stages that they believe most people will go through as part of a response to acute trauma. In each stage they have provided some insight, a clarification of risks, recommended activities and tips for both parents and teachers. We have also explored how each stage will be influenced by COVID-19.

Worksheets and other activities

Worksheets to help children identify how they are feeling on their return to school, what worries them, how they have coped during lockdown, both positive and negative.

A resource pack for children and young people returning to school from Phoenix Educational Consultancy Limited. It's packed with different worksheets to help children settle back into school and manage their mental health. The worksheets are based on research that was carried out with children of both primary and secondary age after the first lockdown.

A 60-90 minute session from Save the Children's Resource Centre to check-in with children ages 5 and up when they first arrive back to school (preferably within the first week) or in another activity space after COVID-19 closures. This is a guide to provide basic support to children to help them process their feelings and experiences, before adjusting back into regular social contact with peers and routine classes or activities. This tool is designed for use by adults – including classroom teachers - who facilitate activities with children after experiencing school closures, COVID 19 home isolation and physical distancing. In family based programming, this tool can also be used with caregivers in attendance. This check-in session with children aims to support them to process their experiences through COVID-19 school closures and lockdowns to help prevent longer-term negative impacts on psychosocial development.

This chart encourages young people to think about what coping skills they have been using and if these have been positive or negative in helping them to deal with, manage or process their emotions. Recognising this will help them to identify ways in which they can more effectively support their mental health and wellbeing, which will help them to become more independent and resilient in the long term. Teachers can also use this chart as a monitoring tool or a conversation starter with both young people and parents and carers. Please read the guidance first. Published by Mentally Healthy Schools.

The rules for wearing masks has changed. At the time of writing this activity, children over 11 year olds should wear masks in public place. This is unless they have certain medical conditions. It might be that the rules change by the time you read this. These activities are to help children think about the rules around key things such as: • Social distancing • Wearing of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) such as face masks • Social gathering. Especially helpful for children with low reality and low perception

This is a resource for children with high perception of threat from COVID-19. Anxiety is what happens when we think we are under threat. Being an anxiety detective is about trying to find out if there is evidence for some of the thoughts we may have, including keeping a thought diary about fears about Covid.

Worksheet to help children plan a badge they can make to help them remember things like social distancing and wearing a mask.

Children may be feeling very worried about COVID-19 due to their own personal circumstances. The The questions on this worksheet aim to help them explore their worries and write down some of their thoughts.

Worksheet to help children plan a badge they can make to help them remember things like social distancing and wearing a mask.

Simple worksheet of a circle of animals showing how they feel through their body language. There is a space for the child to draw their own emotion. Can be used to accompany the book Once I was very, very scared.

Simple worksheet of a circle of animals saying what helps them when they are very scared with a space for the child to add their own drawing. Can be used to accompany the book Once I was very, very scared.

Not everyone has the same perception of risk and will do try things that other people may be scared about. It is all about how we think about risk and how we feel confident in managing that risk and whether or not we think that anything bad may happen to us. This worksheet, for secondary school pupils, challenges them to think about wearing - or not wearing - a mask.

This activity from YoungMinds can help pupils look back over the year to see just how far they have come. Pupils will have had a range of experiences especially during lockdown, so it’s important to value a broad variety of achievements. Celebrating these successes and how they make us feel can be a positive way to finish the year.

A selection of assembly ideas and class-based activities from Place2Be to support your school community as it comes back together from Place2Be.

A selection of assembly ideas and class-based activities from Place2Be to support your school community as it comes back together from Place2Be.

Worksheet to help children explore some of the things they might be thinking or feeling. Also suggests some reconnection games they could play, and how to make a Lockdown learning memory capsule.

This back to school quiz is designed to help children settle back into school after lockdown. They also have some helpful hint sheets for children feeling different emotions:

Looking forward to returning to school

Positive about returning to school

Mixed feelings

Really worried about returning to school 

Taking things in their stride