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Child mental health and wellbeing
Taking care of physical and mental health is crucial at this time: read our practical tips.
We know that during lockdown many parents/carers have had concerns about the impact of school closures on their child’s mental health. Many families will have experienced loss and other trauma. That is why the NEU believes it is important that all schools prioritise the mental health and wellbeing of children and young people whenever it is safe to open more widely.
As a parent/carer you will play a huge role in supporting your child’s healthy transition back to school. Below are some tips and links to resources to help you to support your child’s wellbeing whenever they can return to school:
Talk about school safety
Lots of children will feel anxious about coronavirus and how to stay safe at school. Talk to your child about how they feel about going back to school and if they have concerns or anxieties. If safety is a key concern, reassure them about what measures their school is putting in place to keep everyone safe (your school should have consulted with you about what planned measures will be in place in September). For further information on how to support your child if they are feeling worried, take a look at UNICEFs FAQs for parents/carers as well as the websites below.
Reassure your child about their learning
Your child may be worried about their learning during lockdown for a range of reasons. If your child has exams next year, they may be particularly anxious that they are behind in their learning. The NEU has outlined our vision for education from September here, including what support we think needs to be in place for families who don’t have access to the internet in their home. It may be helpful to explain to your child what extra support will be in place to help them with their learning when they return, and that teachers will be there to help every pupil with gaps in their education. Avoid using language such as ‘catch up’ or ‘lost learning’ as this could put further pressure on your child.
Help your child reconnect with peers
If your child is able to return to school, re-establishing and re-connecting with peers will hopefully be an exciting prospect. However, social distancing may mean that they will not be able to learn or play with their friends in the way they normally would. Try to talk to your child about the new arrangements at school, including changes to the school day and the layout of their classroom and how it makes them feel. You can continue to help your child stay connected with others online or by phone even if they aren’t able to interact at school. Check out Childnet for tips on how to help your child safely stay connected with others.
Know where to get further support
Whether your child is at home or at school, make sure that you know who to contact at school if you or your child needs additional or specialist mental health support. Schools will be considering how they support pupil wellbeing in the transition back to school and you should be aware of what new arrangements and additional pastoral support will be in place, as well as existing provision. Continue to talk to your school if you need pastoral support to be provided remotely and discuss how this will work.
Look after your own mental health and wellbeing
You may have experienced enormous stress and personal trauma during lockdown. Your child’s transition back to school may also be a challenging period, as the whole family readjusts to new routines. Mental health charity Mind offers tips and coping strategies for good mental health. Other helpful links are below. In addition, you may be anxious about your child’s safety and the Government’s decision in England to fine parents who do not send their children back to school in September. The NEU does not believe it is right to fine parents/carers and we will continue to call for a change in Government policy. We are advising all schools to work with families in a supportive way, using scientific information to address concerns and to take a flexible approach to attendance based on individual family circumstances and health needs.
There are lots of organisations out there to help support your mental health and your child’s. Useful websites for parents, children and young people include:
If your child has a specific diagnosed mental health condition or has a special educational need or learning disability, you may find the following websites useful:
If you or your child are struggling to cope and need extra support, there are a number of national phonelines you can call. For more information, take a look at these online posters with information about support services.
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