Returning back to school-A young person's guide

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Since Covid-19 and the lockdown in March, we have all been having to do things a little bit differently. We have all been out of our usual routine and the talk about going back to school can make us feel a range of emotions. How do you feel about going back?

Some might feel excited to see friends, whereas others are not sure what to expect and feel a bit worried and scared about what school might be like. Some young people haven’t been out as much as what they normally would, and are now not used to being around many people. Some have lots of questions, which bring on feelings of worry such as: Are there new or different things I might have to do when I return? Will I see my friends? Will I be able to catch up on my work?

It might be that you won’t have the answers to these until you slowly return to school. But there are some things that you can do to help with getting into a routine again, and to manage the mixed feelings of returning to school.

1) Talk openly about starting school and about how you feel

It’s ok to feel nervous about school, and equally at times to feel quite excited. Talking about how we feel to a family member, friend or teacher can be helpful to share any concerns we have. They might have ideas on ways of supporting you in returning back to school. Sometimes, there might not be a clear answer to some of your worries but when we talk to someone, our worries can become a little bit smaller. Are there things that you might be looking forward to when you return?

2) Get in contact with friends

Since lockdown we have all been interacting through virtual platforms, and it might feel a bit strange seeing our friends again face to face.

• Arranging playdates/meetups with friends before returning back to school can be helpful to talk about how you are feeling about returning to school. You might be surprised that your friends might feel very similarly to you. If not, then they might have some ideas to help you, or be a really good listening ear.

• Remember to follow the latest government guidelines when meeting with others.

3) Go out again

We might notice that since Covid-19 we have not been going out and doing as much activity and movement as what we might normally do on a school day. Some people might find that going out and being around people again is a bit tiring and makes us feel a little overwhelmed. It is ok to be feeling like this, as we have been out of this routine, With some practice you can feel comfortable going out again.

• Before going into school, try to go out little by little everyday, and gradually build this up until you feel comfortable in those situations.

• For example, you can start small by going for a quiet walk with family, then building up to going for a walk in the park.

4) Get back to your sleep pattern

Having a good nights sleep can help us have energy and help our concentration for the next day. Since being out of school we can probably notice that we are going to bed and getting up later.

• Have a think about when you were in school...what time did you wake up and go to bed by? For you to be ready for the school weeks ahead, it is important to gradually wake up earlier in the morning and go to bed earlier. Ideally as close to the time that you normally would for school.

• Try setting an alarm in the morning to wake up a bit earlier than you normally would. Try your best to wake up and get ready for the day ahead. Often it can be helpful to have something planned to look forward to.

• Start having a wind down routine before going to bed. For example if your bedtime is 9pm, then at around 8.30pm, start getting ready to go bed. This can help your brain get into the zone of resting. There is lots of research which explains that not using devices (such as phones, tablets, TV), before bed can help with the mind relaxing. If your brain is finding it tricky to switch off, trying activities that can help with relaxing the mind, such as reading, listening to music, relaxation exercises may help. Apps such as Headspace, Calm, Stop breathe and think to name a few are helpful. Speak with a family member to help you to decide on one that would best suit you.

• It might feel a bit tricky at first to do, and you might want to sleep in or stay up late. Try your best to go back to your sleep routine as much as you can.

• You might need some support from a family member to help you stay on track. They might find it helpful to have a read of some additional advice here: solutions-within-covid-19/

Most importantly remember that it has been a while since you have been in school and it will take some time to get used to this new routine. Remember you are not alone in this and there are many people that will be feeling similarly as you do. All the pupils, teachers and parents are working and trying as best as they can to manage with returning. There might be some wobbly days, but there might also be some really wonderful days. Try to notice and remember the ones that go well. And for those days that don’t, please speak with someone you trust about how you feel so they can support you.

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