The highs and lows of the last few months will be unique to each family, but parents, carers and young people will undoubtedly be experiencing new emotions as pupils begin to get ready for a new school year back in the classroom.

After weeks of late mornings, attending the school of mum or dad, a well-deserved break over the summer holidays and whatever else has been your family’s lockdown experience, schools are getting ready to welcome all pupils back in September.

And many families are ready for the new school year to start. In a recent survey, we found that almost nine in 10 (87%) of East Sussex parents are confident in sending their children back to school.

To help families prepare for the new school year and manage the worries and change that comes with living in a Covid world, we’ve rounded up advice from Sussex Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS), as well as other resources.

Top 5 tips for helping children and young people concerned about going back to school

  • Schools are getting ready to welcome all pupils back safely with social distancing measures. A redesigned curriculum, revised timetables, hand sanitiser stations, reorganisation of school furniture, increased cleaning and safety markings inside and outside school buildings are all measures being adopted. Speak with the school if you or your child would like to know more about the safety measures in place.
  • Remind children about good hygiene and the importance of washing hands, not sharing items and keeping to social distancing rules while at school.
  • Encourage them to talk to you or their teachers about any worries and concerns they might have about coronavirus. Take a look at Coronavirus returning to school toolkit from Mentally Healthy Schools.
  • Communication is essential between parents, carers and professionals working with or supporting a child. It’s important for the school to be aware of how your child has coped during the pandemic, particularly if they have experienced illness or bereavement.
  • Returning to school after the summer holidays can be challenging enough under normal circumstances. Plus, some children will be attending school for the first time. Check out our tips and resources to help your children prepare for school.

Top 5 tips for dealing with behavioural changes

  • If you notice any common signs such excessive worry or sadness, unhealthy eating or sleeping habits, and difficulty with attention and concentration, take a look at the help and support for parents and carers on the Sussex CAMHS website.
  • Monitor your child’s exposure to stories and information about coronavirus, and potentially conflicting messages that they might be seeing.
  • Listen to your child and accept their feelings and concerns about going back to school. Encourage them to deal with their feelings and reassure them that it will pass. Remind them of a time when they have overcome something emotional in the past. NHS Every Mind Matters has more tips if your child is worried about coronavirus.
  • Remind your child that life will continue after Covid-19. Whilst it may feel uncertain now, the best they can do is take each day as it comes and try and fill each day with something positive and constructive. You can also find useful resources to help support goal setting for children and family routines and nourishing activities on Sussex CAMHS coronavirus support page.
  • If your child has autism, they may feel reassured to know that some things have not changed. Contact the school, as it may be possible for them to send pictures of the rooms or arrange a video call or even a visit. The National Autistic Society has a back to school guide for parents.

The exceptions for school attendance will be for children with serious medical conditions and those that are isolating. If you have any concerns, please speak to your school. In the meantime, take a look at our webpages with even more support and resources for returning to school.

Have you got questions about going back to school? Check out our webpages which cover why it’s safe, travelling to school, what to expect, what to do if a child or family member is shielding, and more: Back to School – We are ready!