Helpful tips for home and school
Most of us have been learning from home for a while now because of COVID-19. It’s great we can get back to school. Our teachers are looking forward to seeing us and we get to play with our friends again. Sometimes learning from home felt easy, sometimes it felt a bit hard. Everyone has a different learning from home story to tell.
Here are some helpful tips for you as we return to school.
Helpful tips for primary students coming back to school
COVID-19 has required everyone to make changes: how we live, how we socialise, how we learn. Everyone has a learning-from-home story and, while there are similarities, our own story is unique.
Download these helpful tips
- Try on your school uniform and school shoes. You may have had a growth spurt and it may not fit!
- Get organised and pack your bag the day before school starts. Pack your own hand sanitiser and a mask. If you don’t have hand sanitiser or a mask don’t worry, your school can give
- It’s a good idea to wear a mask while on the bus and at school. Wash your hands or use hand sanitiser during the day and before you eat.
- Cough or sneeze into your elbow. If you need to blow your nose, use a tissue and put it in the bin. Make sure you wash your hands or use hand sanitiser afterwards.
- Just so you know, it’s ok to have different feelings when coming back school. You may feel worried, nervous, angry or happy, or any feeling in between.
- Talking to friends and family can be helpful. You can even talk to your teacher or school counsellor /school psychologist if you’d like to. Your school can help you get in contact with someone to talk to, just let your teacher, parent or carer know.
- Watch out for your friends too! Ask them “Are you OK?”. It’s OK to tell someone if you are worried about your friend. There are more ideas on looking after yourself on the Department of Education’s student mental health and wellbeing pages.
- Try your best. Let your teacher, parent or carer know what you found easy or hard when working from home. They are there to help you.
- Be kind to your classmates. Invite them to play a game with you. Be patient. It’s been a while since we have all been together. If you feel a bit annoyed or angry while playing or learning, try taking some deep breaths, walk away to another area or talk about it with your teacher.
Have some fun
- Have fun with your class and teacher. Use your break times to spend some time outside playing with your friends.
- Don’t forget to eat breakfast! Pack a healthy lunchbox and drink bottle for school. This will help you feel energised during the day.
- Make sure you go to bed on time! Sleep helps us concentrate, learn and enjoy the day at school. Put your devices in another room, so your sleep is not disturbed.
- You might notice you are more tired than usual. That’s ok, after a while you will get back into your normal school routine.
Helpful tips for secondary students returning to school
Some students found it hard, others may have been worried about how it will affect their progress and there have been others who have enjoyed it. Whatever your experience, know that it’s normal to experience a wide range of emotions and for these emotions to have changed from one week to the next.
As we get ready to return to school it is important to think about strategies that will help to prepare for your return, manage any worries you might have and re-focus your thinking.
- Be kind to yourself. Give yourself the same advice that you’d give to a good friend.
- Life has been quite different, so give yourself time to adjust back into routine. Be realistic in your thinking about how long it might take.
- Be realistic and flexible. Talk with your teachers about your work, both the strengths and the challenges. Your teachers are there to help you.
- Get organised before the day. Try on your school uniform and shoes before the first day back. You may have had a growth spurt and need to organise getting new gear!
- Check your timetable to know what lessons you’ll be having and prepare the equipment you might need. If you’re unsure ask your teacher or someone in your class. Pack your school bag the day before, including a face mask and hand sanitiser. If you don’t have hand sanitiser or a mask don’t stress, your school can give this to you.
- Try to reconnect with a friend before the first day back and arrange a time and place to meet on your return.
- Some things are out of our control and it can be tiring worrying about these things. Try and focus on the things you can control, like trying your best with your school work, and see change as an opportunity to learn and grow.
- Talk with your family and friends to help you prepare yourself for returning to school.
- Keep up to date about the rules around mask wearing at school and while travelling to and from school. If you need more information, look at your school’s website or Facebook page or contact a teacher or year adviser. Remember, COVID safe practices about physical distancing and hand washing are for the safety of everyone in the school community.
- There may be changes to school-based activities like assemblies, sport and excursions to encourage physical distancing and help keep people safe.
- If you feel unsafe, or are worried about safety, talk to a trusted adult in the school about your feelings.
- Challenging times can be easier to get through together, so stay connected, be positive and be there for each other. Remember that everyone is going through the same experience and others may be feeling the same way so it can help to talk about it together and support each other.
- Look out for your friends. If you think your friend is having a tough time, it’s a good idea to reach out and offer support. ReachOut has some helpful tips on how to start the conversation.
Don’t forget your physical health
- Eating a healthy balance of food throughout the day and drinking water will help to improve your mood, help you concentrate, boost your energy level and support your general health. This includes eating breakfast.
- Stay active. Returning to school may make you physically and mentally tired for a while. Try to spend some time doing something physical at the end of the day to give yourself a break, get the blood flowing and boost your mood. This could be a walk, bike-riding, dancing, yoga or high intensity exercise.
- Make sure you get enough sleep to give your brain a rest and allow you to recharge. Get back into the routine of sleeping 8-10 hours so you can wake up in the morning in time for school. Uninterrupted sleep is best, so put your phone on silent or even better, in another room.
- It’s ok to feel a range of emotions about returning to school after learning from home. You may feel worried, nervous, angry or happy, or any emotion in between. It may take you time to reconnect with teachers and other students and settle back into the school routine. And remember that some days may be easier than others.
- Look to recall a time in the past when you have faced challenges that made you feel nervous or worried. Think about the strategies that you used to manage these emotions and get through the situation.
- Even though it can be tough, look to focus on the good things, no matter how small they may seem. It is important to seek out the positives to help build your confidence and focus on your strengths.
If you do feel overwhelmed there are a lots of things you can do:
- Take some deep breaths, walk away to another area or talk about it with your mates.
- Use an app to help you look after yourself. Smiling Mind is one app that can be used to practise mindful meditations to manage stress and help you to relax. Reachout.com has heaps of other apps you can check out.
- Reach out to your support network. This may include your family, people at school such as your teachers, year adviser, school counsellor/ school psychologist or student support officer.
- There are some helplines that are great to use. You can do this on the phone or online chat. Kids HelpLine (Kidshelpline.com.au or 1800 55 1800) or headspace (1800 650 890) are two places you can contact. They are free of charge.
- Your local doctor is also someone you can talk to.
- You will find more ideas on how to look after yourself and your friends on the Department of Education’s student mental health and wellbeing pages.
- Your feelings are important and you are allowed to talk about them if you need to. There are lots of people you can talk to when and if you need to.
Helpful tips for parents and carers to support children
Every family has a different learning-from-home story. Here are some ways you can support your child return to school and reconnect with their school community.
These tips are available in 35 community languages
Be positive about the return to school
- Ask your child how they are feeling about returning to school. Your child may be feeling a mix of emotions about their return, so it is important to listen to any concerns and respond in a calm, supportive and reassuring way.
- Promote positive conversations by asking what they like about school and what they are looking forward to when they return. Let them know that school staff are looking forward to seeing them. Your child might like to make a list or drawing about things they have missed about school.
- If they feel nervous or worried, help them understand this is a normal reaction, and that you and their teachers are there to support them.
- If your child has questions about COVID-19 provide factual and age appropriate information. Let them know everyone at school is working hard so that everyone is safe.
- Consider limiting media content your child is viewing if it is contributing to worry or distress.
- Remind your child that everyone at school is working hard to make sure that everyone is safe and that anyone who is unwell will stay home.
Prepare yourself and child for changes and new school procedures
- Look at the school website, Facebook page and newsletters to learn about new procedures that may have been introduced such as changes to parents’ access to the school grounds, drop off and pick up points as well as new rules such as wearing face masks or hygiene rules.
- Discuss these with your child and plan together how these changes will be managed. The more your child understands the changes, the more comfortable they are likely to feel. If you are unsure about anything, contact the school or your child’s teacher.
Re-establish your routines
- Routines help provide certainty and increase feelings of security, so it will help to re-establish routines and plan for the return.
- In the week before, bring back the usual wake up, bed and breakfast routines. Set aside time to find school equipment and check uniforms and shoes still fit – your child may have grown. Give yourself enough time to organise replacements or a uniform alternative if needed.
- The day before returning, encourage your child to check their school timetable if needed, pack their school bag, and get their lunch box, drink bottle and uniform ready.
- Allow more time than usual on the first morning back to calmly get ready. Take your child to school if that will help build a greater sense of security. Alternatively, encourage your child to meet up with a friend before school and travel in together.
Update the school
- Let the school know of any concerns relating to your child that may impact their transition back to school. This will assist the school to work with you to plan and put in place appropriate support strategies.
At the end of the school day
- Talk to your child about their day and what they are looking forward to tomorrow. If your child prefers, get them to write down or draw their feelings.
- Provide opportunities for your child to play and relax at the end of the day. Returning to school may contribute to tired and emotional reactions at the end of the day.
- Help re-establish after-school routines to review the day’s learning and complete homework tasks.
- Consider having extra family time together as your child may have missed being at home with you.
Supporting your child
- Returning to school routines may take some time. Reassure your child that this is normal. Encourage them to ask for help if they need it
- Take care of your own wellbeing while supporting your child’s return to learning at school. You may have some children returning to school while others are continuing to learn from home. You can help your child by explaining that all children will be returning to school soon.
- If they are finding things difficult, remind your child of times in the past when they were able to do things that were difficult and face situations that made them nervous or scared.
- If you are concerned about your child, seek support by contacting the school.
How you can help your school community
- If you are picking your child up from school, please be sure to follow the guidelines for your school.
- Please practice physical distancing at pick up time.
If you need help and support
- If you have specific questions about the return you can contact your school.
Mental health and wellbeing pages
For more ideas to support you and help you support your child, please visit the department’s Mental health and wellbeing pages.
Free online session for seniors on returning to school
If you have a senior school student returning to school, they may be interested in the free live presentaton by our student support officers on Finding your groove again on Monday 11 October at 10.30am as part of Wellbeing Week on DART Learning.