Doing your homework
Coronavirus might have put paid to hopes of a typical school year, but you can help your child cope with whatever it throws at them
There’s no denying coronavirus’ impact on school life – so much so, it’s unlikely that the 2021–22 school year will mark a complete return to life before COVID-19. In June, there was talk of how this academic year could see students switch between classroom and home-based learning, and of how GCSE and A-level grades for 2021 could be determined by a mixture of examinations and assessment. Meanwhile, the charity Parentkind says that classrooms will alter due to the pandemic and that children starting primary school this year will be unlikely to be able to attend taster sessions beforehand.
Whatever happens, you can still help prepare your child for the academic year ahead. Children of all ages benefit from easing back into their school routine before the new year starts, so ensure your child does this as you get nearer to the start of term.
Starting school is a huge milestone for any child, and if your child begins primary school this year, books can help them get used to the idea. Walk or drive with your child to their new school, and ask the school whether any photos showing the layout of your child’s classroom will be online so you and your child can discuss this. In addition, find out if your school has a Facebook group or PTA website and join the school community. ‘Always be positive and enthusiastic about all the fun things that will happen at school, use [your child’s] teacher’s name so it feels familiar and talk about the new friends they’ll make,’ Parentkind says.
Your child doesn’t need to be able to read, write or do sums before starting school, but Parentkind suggests reading to children beforehand, as well as helping them to recognise their name and getting them used to numbers and letters. Encourage your child to independently undertake practical skills they’ll need for school long-term, and try to ensure they know how to share, take turns, listen and sit still. Get them used to being away from both you and home too.
According to Parentkind, ‘secondary schools are very aware children have missed out on taster sessions and transition days because of lockdown and will be preparing for a smooth and happy transition when they welcome their new intake’. If your child begins senior school this month, ensure you’re positive about the new start. Your child will likely be travelling to and from school without you, so practise the route with them when it’s safe.
Secondary school can mean more to keep track of, so ensure you’re on top of paperwork and important dates. Extra homework is another potential factor, and setting up a homework area for your child is a great move.
If your child struggles to settle, speak to your child’s teacher, or if they’re at senior school, their form tutor. If you are unsatisfied with the response, speaking to a head of year or headteacher is a good next step. Fortunately, most issues can be sorted out swiftly, but don’t forget that moving schools can be an option if you feel it is best for your child. The new normal needn’t be to the detriment of a child’s development.