During this difficult time, we want to reach out to let you know that, even though you might not be attending school, we’re still here to support your child and your family in whatever way we can.
Here you will find some resources to help you support your child.
If you do have any concerns about how your child is coping or you need any other support from the school, please let us know by contacting us on the school phone number 0161 972 4820 or email us at email@example.com
We’re extremely grateful for all the support you’ve shown us as we’ve adapted to these new circumstances, and we want to reassure you that we are still here to support you too. We will get through this together.
As your child is spending more time indoors and outside of their normal routines, you might notice signs of increasing anxiety. These might include:
Ages 3-6 years
Ages 7-10 years
Ages 11 years plus
- Regressing to behaviour they’ve outgrown, such as thumb-sucking or bed-wetting
- Showing greater fear at being separated from you
- Trouble sleeping
- Expressing sadness, anger or fear
- Sharing false information that they’re hearing from their peers or seeing online
- Wanting to talk about coronavirus all the time
- Not wanting to talk about the current situation at all
- Having trouble concentrating
- Acting out – this might include things like picking fights with you or with siblings
- Becoming afraid to leave the house
- Distancing themselves from their friends and family
- Exhibiting intense emotions but being unable to talk about what they’re feeling
How can I help my child?
Daytime and Sleep Routines
We all know that our routines change between term time and holidays, but while we are all in this middle ground it might be a good idea to create a plan that works for you and your family.
You may have already made some family decisions about the following, but if not, perhaps you could have a family meeting to create a timetable that gives you some structure. It does not have to be a home schooling timetable, however it might support your child to follow a daily routine like we do in school. Having this discussion with your child will also allow them to understand your perspective and the pressures you might be feeling from working from home.
You could discuss the following;
- What time are you getting up? What suits your family more, an early start and an early finish, or a later start and later finish?
- Working hours? Can you use the school day structure to chunk your learning/activities?
- Is exercising built into the daily plan? There are lots of workouts online e.g. Action Dan on Tapestry, Joe Wicks on YouTube and Cosmic Kids Yoga. It is more fun if the rest of the family get involved too. Physical activity is great for your mood and mental health.
- There is suddenly something amazing about being let outside for an hour each day too. Family walks, rain or shine, are a great opportunity to connect and explore the blossoming spring environment.
- Think about making meal times social. Maybe your child/ren could contribute more to the preparation or post-tea clean up and this could become part of your daily routine.
- Bedtimes have probably become a little bit later already, but sleep is still very important. Having a bedtime routine, clutter-free space and avoiding those blue screen lights just before bed can help.
If your child struggles with higher levels of anxiety
Some children are naturally more anxious, such as those with existing phobias or obsessive-compulsive disorders. The current situation can make those anxieties worse.
- Get them to do activities such as counting, ordering and sorting tasks which can help them calm down
- Encourage them to use relaxation techniques such as controlled breathing
- Look out for obsessive or compulsive behaviours and try to get ahead of them early by challenging unhelpful thoughts and assumptions
- If you’re worried about your child’s anxiety, YoungMinds is a charity dedicated to children’s mental health. They’ve opened a parents’ helpline for confidential, expert advice. You can reach them at 0808 802 5544
Helplines and websites for children and young people
If your child would like to speak with someone confidentially, there are helplines and websites specifically for them.
Free, confidential support via text, available 24/7
Text SHOUT to 85258 in the UK to text with a trained crisis volunteer who’ll provide active listening and collaborative problem-solving
Free confidential telephone helpline and online service that aims to find young people the best help, whatever the problem
- Call 0808 808 4994 for free (11am to 11pm daily)
- Access the online community
- Email The Mix
Confidential telephone counselling service for any child with a problem
- call 0800 1111 for free anytime
- Have an online chat with a counsellor (9am to midnight daily)
- Check out the message boards
Parents/carers - Take care of yourself
It’s really important right now to take care of your own physical and mental health. Children are very perceptive, and they react to what they sense from the adults around them.
Here are some things you can do to help keep yourself healthy:
- Connect with others – maintain relationships with people you care about through phone and video calls.
- Exercise – take some time every day to move. You could go for a walk or run – the Couch to 5K app is brilliant for those who wish to increase their fitness. You’ll also find lots of fitness videos online for everything from yoga to dance. Find something you enjoy and that makes you feel good.
- Eat healthy meals – try to keep a well-balanced diet and drink enough water.
- Get some sleep – being anxious or worried can have a big impact on your sleep. If you’re struggling to get a good night’s sleep, try to develop a calming bedtime routine. There are plenty of apps you can download that provide guided meditation to help you get to sleep more quickly. You can find these apps below.
- Turn off the news – it’s important to keep up to date, but the 24-hour news cycle can make you more anxious. Limit your exposure to the news to only a small amount of time, just enough to know what the latest government guidance is.
- Do things you enjoy – now that we’re all spending more time at home, we can finally take up that hobby we’ve always meant to learn. Try baking or gardening or learning to knit. These are also great activities we can share with our children.
- Set goals – it’s easy to lose track of the days in our current situation, so it can be helpful to set daily and weekly goals to give us a sense of control and purpose. Examples might be setting a goal of walking for half an hour at least 3 times this week or reading a new book.
- Connect with the outdoors – depending on where you live, it may not be possible to spend time outside. If you don’t have a garden or terrace, you can still open a window to let some fresh air and sunlight in. Put a comfortable chair by the window so you can look outside and get some air as you read a book.
- Talk to someone – during this difficult time, sharing with family and friends how you’re feeling and what you’re doing to cope can be helpful for both you and them. There are also helplines you can call for support – these are listed below.
How to talk to your child about what’s happening
No matter how calmly you manage the current environment, children are likely to be anxious, so it’s important to talk to them about what’s happening.
For younger children
Children pick up bits of information from their friends, from the news and from listening to adults talking around them – but they can misunderstand what they’re hearing.
- Deal with the news head-on and talk about it openly and calmly, giving them the facts.
Give them age-appropriate information – take a look at:
- BBC Newsround hub – regularly updated with information and advice
- #covibook – for under 7s
- Children’s guide to coronavirus – a download from the Children’s Commissioner to help explain the situation to children
- Teach them how to know if information they find on the internet is reliable. Explain how some stories on social media may be based on rumours or inaccurate information
- Encourage them to take breaks from listening to or reading the news – overexposure isn't helpful
- This will give them the confidence to reach out, if they have anything to ask
- Be reassuring but honest when answering questions – it's ok if you don't have all the answers
- Be ready to answer the same question over and over – children tend to repeat themselves when they're feeling uncertain or worried, so you might have to answer the same questions more than once as they seek extra reassurance
Be a role model
- Recognise and manage your own worries first
- Be open about your own feelings and let them know it’s normal to be concerned – for example, let them know you’re also finding the news a bit worrying and what you’re doing to stay calm
Explain how our body's immune system protects us
- It's constantly working against germs without us knowing. We can't and don't need to control this process
- Explain that we're taking precautions against this particular germ because it's a new one which our bodies haven't come across before
- Remind them how important it is that they eat healthy food, sleep and exercise, as this helps to fight germs
- If it helps, reassure them that the effects of this virus on healthy young people are very mild
Keep doing your bit to help children reduce the spread of germs
- Remind them to maintain good hygiene like bathing daily and wearing fresh clothes
- Encourage them to sing 'happy birthday' twice when they're washing their hands
For older children
Older children will have the same anxieties about their own health and that of their family and friends as younger children. But they’re also likely to feel socially isolated, and worried about the result of school closures on their education and what life will be like after the pandemic is over.
In addition to the steps above:
Encourage them to maintain social ties
- Relationships are especially important for older children, so give them room to keep in touch with their friends
Equip them with accurate information – for example:
Share tools to help them manage anxiety
How to make home learning work for your family
We’re realistic about what pupils will be able to do during this time and we want you to be too. You are not expected to become teachers and your children aren't expected to learn as they do in school. Simply providing them with some structure at home will help them to adapt and give them the comfort they need.
The following tips are designed to help you create a positive learning environment at home. See what works best for your household.
- Create and stick to a routine if you can. This is what children are used to. For example, eat breakfast at the same time and make sure they're dressed before starting the ‘school’ day – avoid staying in pyjamas!
- Involve your children in setting the timetable where possible. It’s a great opportunity for them to manage their own time better and it’ll give them ownership.
- Check in with your children and try to keep to the timetable, but be flexible. If a task/activity is going well or they want more time let them!
- If you have more than 1 child at home, consider combining their timetables. For example, they might exercise and do maths together.
- Designate a working space if possible, and at the end of the day have a clear cut-off to signal school time is over.
- Stick the timetable up on the wall so everyone knows what they should be doing when, and tick activities off throughout the day.
- Take stock at the end of each week. What's working and what isn't? Ask your children, involve them too.
- Distinguish between weekdays and weekends, to separate school life and home life.
- Give them chores to do so they feel more responsible about the daily routine at home.
- Ask your child/ren to help you cook and bake.
- Accept that your child/ren will probably watch more TV/spend time on their phone – that's ok but you might want to set/agree some screen time limits.
- Please don’t worry about your children getting behind with learning. Everyone’s in the same boat, and when things get back to normal we’ll make sure we get everyone back on track.
Where to turn to for help
Mental Health Foundation
Provides information and support for anyone with mental health problems or learning disabilities
A mental health charity
Phone: 0300 123 0093 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm)
Youth suicide prevention society
Phone: 0800 068 4141 (Monday to Friday 9am to 10pm and 2pm to 10pm on weekends and Bank Holidays)
Confidential support for people experiencing feelings of distress and despair
Phone: 116 123 (free 24hr helpline)
Emotional support, information and guidance for people affected by mental illness, their families and carers
A charity dedicated to children's mental health
Phone: Parents' helpline 0808 802 5544 (Monday to Friday, 9.30am to 4pm)
Cruse Bereavement Care
Support for grief and bereavement
Phone: 0808 808 1677 (Monday to Friday, 9.30am to 5pm)
Child Protection charity
Phone: 0808 800 5000 for adults concerned about a child (24hr helpline)
0800 1111 for children (ChildLine's 24 hour helpline)
Advice on dealing with domestic violence
Phone: 0808 2000 247 (24hr helpline)