As your child settles back into the school routine this fall, you might be noticing varying emotional responses during this transition period. After so much time spent learning from home over the last 18 months, it could take a while to adjust, with both children and parents adapting at different rates and to differing levels of comfort.
For children who experience challenges with their speech development, being reintroduced into the busy, vibrant school environment could feel overwhelming. Often, so much emphasis is placed on success relating to academic skills at school, that it’s easy to overlook other demands impacting your child.
Five skills to be mindful of as your child adjusts to school
These are five non-academic skills that your child will be investing their energy and concentration into, which could understandably leave them feeling tired out:
1. Paying attention to and processing more stimulus
During home schooling and the summer vacation, your child was predominantly in their familiar home surroundings that they know well. Returning to school means their senses are overloaded. There are new things to look at, there’s exposure to more people than they have been around for a considerable length of time, and the noise level in a shared learning environment makes it more daunting to speak up and vocalize their thoughts.
2. Socializing more
We’ve collectively conditioned our children to be meticulous with their handwashing, to think carefully before they touch anything, and to keep a safe distance from others during the pandemic. Young children re-entering a classroom environment are now relearning how to be around others again, besides their immediate family members. Some children might find this stressful and feel anxious about interacting with classmates. Understandably, you might notice they have become quieter or possibly withdrawn as they are overloaded with unfamiliar social interaction.
3. Adapting to different rules and expectations
Raising a hand to use the bathroom, and having to sit still in a chair, conforming to the expectations of school protocol is not something our children have had to do for some time. It could take a little while for them to get back into the swing of things in terms of feeling comfortable in a more rules-based, structured environment. Once they get home, you might notice changes in their behavior as the long school day has taken a lot out of them. This is normal and it would help to check in regularly to see if there’s anything weighing on them it would help them to talk through with you.
4. Making friends
For children who struggle with their speech, making friends can prove difficult, as they might not be able communicate or be understood in the way they want to. Back in the hustle and bustle of school life, it can sometimes by the case these children feel isolated as they see their peers interacting with ease and wish to be able to do the same.
5. Being aware of other people’s boundaries
We’ve all had our own level of comfort in terms of following the pandemic protocol. Some families have been taking extreme safety measures sterilizing everything and refraining from any physical contact; other families have adopted a far more relaxed approach. It could help to remind your child of these and reassure them that they are safe, even if others are not behaving in the same way your family does. Similarly, when parents chat at the school at drop off and pick up, we just need to be mindful that how we did lockdown isn’t the same for everyone and we all have different needs.
If your child is unusually tried or cranky, withdrawn or regressing in their speech ability or confidence, these are all perfectly normal reactions to returning to school. We are here to help support you through this ease the transition for your child in any way we can.
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