As some schools reopen to more children today you maybe worried & concerned about how your children are coping & adapting to the changes brought about because of the virus.
As a former Deputy Head and Class Teacher for over 22 years it’s a time of uncharted waters for us all – parents, teachers & children – but we are all in this together – supporting, nurturing, encouraging and looking after each other.
Children take their lead from you & the adults around them, & the best way to support them is to be confident yourself about your decision to send them to school.
The Gift of Listening
One of the keys to helping children adapt will be about the strength of your ability to listen to them.
Relationships will be the key to healing, adapting, adjusting and developing resilience.
Talking & listening & just holding the space for your children to feel heard will help them feel understood.
Emotions will be complex depending on the age of your child & their personal experience of the last few months.
Try not to second guess how they feel & don’t negate what they say. Just hold the space for them to talk with you.
Stay calm and confident and be that safe and stable place for each of your children to explore their feelings free from criticism, judgement or censure.
Your children are individuals & have different personalities & experiences so honour their individual feelings – we are all different & no one size fits all.
Active listening is a true gift that you can give to your children, particularly at this time.
Put down your mobile phone, turn off technology & stop what you’re doing & look at your child.
Don’t interrupt, don’t judge, just hold the space to listen & chat with your child about their experiences of school, the changes, the atmosphere, the mood & the new routines.
Show that you are really listening by your body language, tone of voice & by keeping eye contact, nod your head & smile at your child, encourage them gently with ‘Mmmm hmm’ to encourage them to carry on & ask gentle open ended questions that require more than ‘yes or no’ answers.
Make sure it’s not an interrogation of what’s happening at school because you’re anxious but a time to reassure & help your child process what’s going on as this will help them communicate more easily, openly and honestly.
Some Starters for 10
If you find yourself anxious & worried and completely at a loss to get your kids chatting, here are a few starters:
?What was the favourite part of your day?
?What made you laugh today?
?Who were you kind to today?
?What new fact did you learn today?
?When did you feel most proud of yourself today?
?What rule was the hardest to follow today?
?What’s changed at school? How do you feel about that ?
?What games did you play at break time today?
?Was there anything that happened today that made you feel bad?
?What did you do in school today that you really enjoyed?
As you’d expect, children often feel quite tired at the end of the school day. If they aren’t up to talking straight away, hold back on your questions until they have had time to relax and unwind. Once refuelled, they may be up for sharing.
Take your lead from when your child wants to talk & open up – don’t force them – look for the magic moments of connection & be ready to listen maybe over a meal, playing a game, reading a story, having fun in the bath or at bedtime.