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EDBlog reported last month that there has been a significant decline in pupil attendance – amid fears there are children reluctant to return.

A report issued this week by Ofsted showed the effect of the pandemic on schools around the UK. Parent and pupil anxiety is said to have led to increased absence of pupils, while parents opting to home-school their students permanently had also increased.

What can be done if you have children reluctant to return? This blog post explains.

Ofsted findings: children reluctant to return

According to Ofsted:

In a few schools, leaders commented that absence was starting to increase because some pupils were unwell and awaiting Covid-19 tests. Over a third of the schools reported that some parents had removed their children from school to electively home educate them, or were about to do so. Leaders told us that many of these parents seemed to have made this choice because of their anxiety about Covid-19. 

Covid-19 anxiety is affecting people of all ages. According to mental health charity, Growing Space, some people are going hungry because of their anxiety about the illness.

However, these anxiety are meaning both parents and children have reluctance about attending school.

According to the BBC:

Anxious feelings are completely normal in children returning to school. In fact, these feelings are often to be expected. While the transition from summer holidays back into the school year can sometimes be a stressful and even disruptive time, this year is even more challenging as we attempt to manoeuvre a safe and effective return to the classroom following the coronavirus pandemic. 

Are there any practical steps that parents can take in order to ease anxiety in their children?

Child anxiety expert Dr. Lili Ly at the Anna Freud centre told the BBC:

The first thing is to follow government and school guidelines. A lot of schools are offering comprehensive guidance and support to families with children who are returning to school. Be proactive and make yourself aware of these procedures so that you can communicate them to your child in a gentle way before their return. Remember to normalise the situation by reminding your child that they’re not alone, lots of other children are experiencing this too and it’s expected to feel a bit apprehensive.

Don’t overload the child. Instead, choose 3-4 key items to communicate to them. It can also be comforting and reassuring for the child if you can share some of your own experiences of going back to school – again, this shows the child that you understand what they might be feeling, while also normalising it so they know it’s okay to feel this way.

What can you do to encourage your child to go to school?

Dr Ly adds that children reluctant to return to school can be supported by their families:

When someone feels anxious or worried about something, it’s very common to try to avoid that thing, but actually avoidance is what keeps the problem going, so it’s really important for the parent to encourage the child to go to school.

Starting the conversation early can be really helpful with this. Children cope better when you routinely offer information in small pieces, rather than trying to hash everything out over one afternoon. Creating that safe space to have routine check-ins and conversations with your child, and listening to how they’re feeling rather than waiting until the night before they’re set to return to school, is a much better way to minimise worries and anxieties.

Something I like to recommend to parents is to attach their ‘check-in’ time to a daily activity, such as a mealtime. Making it a daily habit takes the pressure off and offers the child a more casual space to open up. Be curious about your child but try to avoid coming across as if you’re interrogating them! By making it a daily habit, you’re creating a space for you to check-in with your child and for your child to feel heard on a regular basis, which is truly an invaluable thing for their wellbeing and development and also helps with bonding.

How EDClass can help

EDClass can help students continue to learn if they are anxious about returning to school.

The EDClass system provides over 11,000+ lessons, including those aimed at improving mental health. It has a proven track record at improving engagement in learning.

For many of our students, anxiety creates a barrier to their learning, but with EDClass the pressure to perform in front of peers is removed, which has meant that for two particular students attendance has gone from virtually nothing to 80% plus, which has, of course, also raised attainment dramatically. The interface for the students is very user friendly, and they actively enjoy their lessons, even those who have previously hated school. 

A tailored learning pathway means you can set specific lessons to target individual’s strengths and weaknesses.

It can help embed students back into mainstream classrooms.

To find out more, get in touch with one of our specialists by calling 01909 568 338.