All schools will be ensuring that the health, safety and social distancing requirements are strictly adhered to when teachers and children return to school. But let’s talk about the social behavioural implications of returning to school under these new conditions. How can we expect our children to embrace the new normal? And what is the new normal?
Children are understandably very excited to be back at school, seeing their friends and getting back into a routine – perhaps almost as excited as their parents are to see them out the door each day – but they need to be prepared for the reality of what going back to school means. They are excited to be getting back to something that may not exist in the way they remember it.
Running up to and hugging their best friend or teacher, will no longer be encouraged. Trading sweets and snacks at lunchtime will be a thing of the past. Teachers may seem to become social distancing police, prioritising taking temperatures over roll call. So how are we going to prepare our children for this changed behaviour? How will children cope with being discouraged for enacting within the normal behaviour of social beings?
Imagine new games being created: Simons says ‘wash your hands’; the first person to touch their face stays behind and cleans the classroom. Regardless of how unfair and confusing the new regulations may seem to our children, parents can help their children embrace this new normal, by supplementing their children’s social education in offering vital emotional support, during this transition.
As parents we need to think of how we can compensate for the life skills our children will no longer be building onto at school. It is important to recognise that schools, having no choice but to prioritise health and safety, must find it very frustrating to have to restrict behaviours that they have had previously, proudly incorporated into their curriculums, and purposefully nurtured. Thus, the responsibility will lie with parents, to ensure lessons in gratitude, generosity and inclusivity are maintained during this post pandemic phase.
A solution might be to draw up those social skills that Covid 19 regulations will infringe upon, and make sure that they are addressed and given attention to accordingly at home, where social distancing does not have to be implemented. It would be normal to assume that these are basic skills and manners children are brought up with in most households, however it may be naïve not to assume that many households sometimes expect this function for the most part, to be attended to by the schools.
If we want our children to remain balanced and well-rounded individuals, we will all need to adapt to the new normal with acceptance, a realistic attitude and practical solutions.