For many children with dyslexia being away from school for a long period of time was a dream come true. For those children school represents struggle and at home they felt more relaxed being able to learn at their own pace. They may have felt a weight off their shoulders away from the daily pressure to produce quick results whilst sitting at a desk in a noisy classroom.
Other children may have found learning alone very difficult without the support of their teacher. Lockdown may have exacerbated the challenges they face with reading, writing, memorising and organising information.
If your child is anxious about returning to school you may be wondering how to help them. Here we share some suggestions and signpost you towards any further help you may need.
- Contact friends
Arrange for your child to regularly see one or two friends from their class after school. Friendships help children to feel a sense of belonging. Knowing that others care for them raises their self-esteem and helps to reduce feelings of anxiety.
To avoid seeing too many different people at this time your child could contact friends over video call. Video calling doesn’t work quite as well with small children but you could set up a game to encourage social interaction.
2. Talk to your child about their worries
It’s not always easy to talk to a child or young person about their worries. Pick a time when they are calm such as when you are out for a walk together rather than when they are in an emotional state. Be clear that their worries are not silly and that you won’t take any steps to tackle their worry that they are not happy with.
You might start by asking your child how they are feeling about returning to school and normalize their feelings: “You’re right, the first day back is always nerve-wracking – I feel like that too when…”
3. Give children time to express their feelings
Activities can help children to express their feelings as they are more relaxed. Small children might enjoy sensory activities such as playing with homemade playdough scented with herbs and spices, making chocolate cake, or engaging in messy play with flour and water or paint.
Older children might like hands-on activities such as cooking, painting, crafting, and planting (see our blog post Summer science fun: Growing monster plants!)
4. Support your child how to manage anxiety
If your child has an ongoing struggle with anxiety you can also talk to your family GP who can put you in touch with a specialist service. Remember anxiety is treatable and it is possible to help your child to manage it so that it doesn’t impact the quality of their life.
NHS England lists some signs of anxiety for parents to be aware of. These include changes in mood, difficulty eating and sleeping and noticeably struggling to manage their emotions.
5. Talk to your child’s teacher
If your child has enjoyed learning at home and is feeling anxious about returning to a classroom environment, talk to your child’s teacher together with the school SENCO. They may need to put additional strategies in place to support your child. For example, they might give your child lesson materials such as Powerpoint slides to view in advance of a lesson, take a more multisensory approach to their learning or consider assistive technologies.
6. Plan fun things to do
Having interesting things to look forward to on the weekends and in the evenings reminds children that school is only part of their lives. It might be as simple as a film and takeaway night or a weekend visit to see a family friend.
Support for children with dyslexia
To find out more please visit our parents page or get in touch: 01223 858 firstname.lastname@example.org