Sue Atkins Tips for Children Returning to School After Lock Down

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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 –  and we are all in this together – supporting, nurturing, encouraging and looking after each other.

Schools are being asked to open their doors on 8th March but it is worth remembering that many schools never closed. My friend Sara’s school kept open for children of key workers throughout lock down and despite contracting Covid19 she was extremely busy after recovering planning, delivering and creating differentiated activities for her Year 3 children.

Those of you who follow my Youtube ‘ Taking On Coronavirus with Laura Henry Allain’ – the creator of the new hit CBeebies series for children JoJo & Gran Gran, will know that we talked about the complications of young children entering back into a newly created, unfamiliar environment as Laura is an Early Years Consultant of 30 years.

There are new things to consider as children, parents and teachers may feel anxious, worried, upset & unsettled as the new unlocking will affect the children’s freedom to play, connect, learn in groups and sit near each other.

Add to this their disrupted routines – the mixed feelings of leaving their homes and yet the excitement of seeing their friends – it’s not going to be an easy time.


It’s also a time of joy – as children see their teachers again and teachers feel delighted to see their class again.

The teachers in this unique position will be forever part of their children’s childhood memories.

Schools have a big part to play  in the lives of the children they serve and in helping children adjust to the new ‘normal.’


Teachers have families & have been juggling their own home schooling, preparing lessons and getting their classrooms ready for the return. They have been anxious about elderly relatives, colleagues who have caught the virus and their own mental health during lock down.

No one is unaffected by the last few weeks and months.

It’s about being mindful of this when you are speaking to your child’s teacher or Head Teacher.

A ‘New Normal’ or is it The ‘Next Normal?’

Let’s face it life isn’t really going to be ‘back to normal’ for a very long time.

Maybe that’s a good thing as I see this time as a massive ‘Reset Button’ on all aspects of our lives and maybe it’s been a time of real reflection for you. Deciding what’s actually important to you in life. Dads have been home and played, cooked, chatted and have built memories with their children that they wouldn’t have if there hadn’t been an enforced lock down.

People have decided that they quite like the slower pace to their rhythm of life and will try and work more from home.

Maybe people have decided the ambition they once had has shifted to a new place.

School League tables and ‘teaching to the test’ may become less important – who knows?

We are living through an historical time and I couldn’t get over the coincidence this morning as I read the chapter in Ken Follett’s book ‘World Without End’ about lock down and the Black Plague in 1348 – eerily similar descriptions of Italy and our own experiences 672 years ago.


With the return to school comes the return to routine.

Children thrive on some routine but returning to new and different routines will take time in school and at home to adjust to.

Just as you probably created new lock down routines, now you will go back to, or create new ‘unlock’ down routines.

This will all take time just like the start of any new term or new school year, but with the additional mix of returning to school with other children and other adults, coupled with possible trauma, anxiety & bereavement for others. A huge time of change for everyone.


Some children have thrived being home away from the pressure of school exams, dyslexic or autistic children may have thrived away from their usual pressures. Some children enjoyed the broader experiences of learning new things at their own pace, some loved home learning, some didn’t. Some children didn’t have access to a computer or a laptop and will have done no formal learning at all during lock down.

Some will have experienced the mental health problems of their parents, some will have lost a loved one – the enormous variety of everyone’s experiences need to be heeded, respected and adapted to.

This will all take time to assimilate.

Everyone will need to find their new balance.

The Keys to Adapting

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 resilience.

Talking & listening & just holding the space for children to feel heard will help them feel understood. Emotions will be complex depending on the age of your children & 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 children to explore their feelings free from criticism, judgement or censure.

I have recently published my new ‘Can Do Kid’s Journal. Discover your Confidence Superpower’ about the keys to developing a Can-Do Kid with the lifelong attitude of ‘iCan.’ It is bursting with fun activities that I created to help children develop their confidence, self esteem and resilience.

You can buy it here

Can Do Kids

I think ‘Can Do Kids’ need to feel that:

They belong

They are competent

They are important

They are brave

They can make mistakes

They can bounce forward





Click on this link to download an activity from my Journal

Click here to buy it

Memory Jars

I’m a huge fan of Memory Jars for all sorts of occasions and you can read about them here


But perhaps you could create a

Returning to School Lock Down Memory Jar

Where you pop in your favourite moments and memories of Lock Down

Funniest Moments

Best Bits

Best Thing I’ve Learnt

What I’ll Tell My Children About Lock Down

What I Hope Will Carry On After Lock Down


Staying positive, upbeat and adaptable is the best gift you can give your kids at this time.

I hope you all stay well and stay resilient through the months and years ahead.




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