For years, I have been able to predict how the last day of the Summer Holiday will feel. On the one hand, my tummy will be filled with butterflies with the excitement of seeing the children and teachers again and of meeting new pupils for the first time. I look forward to the return to routine, to the daily, weekly and termly events that shape and form the year. On the other, I am absolutely convinced of one thing. I have forgotten how to teach.
As adults, returning to ‘normal’ after a long period away can fill us with self-doubt and anxiety. How, then, will our children feel on 2nd September when, after many months where their usual routine has been interrupted, we hope that they walk through the school gates, happy and ready to learn?
For each of them, I am sure it will be different. Feelings may fluctuate from one child to the next and even from one moment to the next for each individual. What matters is that, at home and at school, every child has the support and care that he or she needs to approach the year positively, knowing that there are people there to help them every step of the way.
At Mylnhurst, we will be doing lots of things to make your child’s transition back to school as smooth as can be. At home, there are plenty of steps you can take to help too.
Many of us have some concerns about schools opening in these unprecedented times. Whether or not these have been discussed at home explicitly, your child may have picked up on them from the news or from overhearing adults’ conversations. You are, of course, the person your child will go to first in order to gauge how they ought to feel about an issue; we all know the difference that even a reassuring glance from a parent or loved one can make to a child when faced with an unfamiliar situation.
We can help to alleviate any anxiety by sharing our confidence in the systems that are in place in school. Whereas, usually, children might spend the autumn term suffering from blocked up noses and sharing bugs better than they might share toys, we are likely to be healthier than ever now that our hands and equipment are cleaned so often! It may be worth reminding our children that, as the people we love most in the world, we would never put them at risk. Their teachers care for them just as much and are there to make sure that they are safe and well, whilst having lots of fun learning. If you are assured, they will be too.
There is a secret, unspoken, agreement between the teaching community: we will not share our ‘tricks’ with the outside world. We smile, innocently, when parents complain that their son or daughter will not do as they are asked, particularly when it involves tidying up or helping out. In these unprecedented times, however, I am prepared to give away a strategy we ordinarily keep closely guarded. Children respond brilliantly to being given responsibility*.
Suddenly, the task of organising the bookshelves seems much more appealing when given the title ‘Book Monitor’ and the enormous responsibility that comes with it. Imagine, then, that you can play a part in helping the world to beat a pandemic! Let them know that, by going to school, they will be able to become the medics, researchers, politicians or engineers of tomorrow, able to respond to crises and perhaps save lives for future generations. By following the school’s hygiene advice, they are ensuring that we all stay safe today. They can encourage others to do the same. By doing this, we empower children to see that they can have a great deal of control over the situation rather than it being out of their hands.
*Children have a wonderful talent of sussing out when the wool is being pulled over their eyes; this tactic may not have them stacking your dishwasher for long. Good luck.
‘The Mylnhurst Family’ is a phrase that has become ubiquitous with the school itself. When your child comes to Mylnhurst, they should feel that they are entering their second home – they are safe, secure and loved. Our partnership with you is central to that feeling. We let each other know when your child is feeling upset or worried, just as we share in their successes and achievements. Do not feel that a concern is too small to mention; now, more than ever, communication is key. Let your child know that we will be working together to keep our whole community safe.
There is so much to look forward to about the start of term. Friends will be reunited, children will be inspired by their learning and challenges will be overcome. More than any other year, our teachers are incredibly excited to see their students. We are making sure that Mylnhurst feels extra special for their arrival and so the hallway is being redecorated, the kitchen has a brand new oven and the Mylnhurst flag will be flying high! I am so looking forward to meeting your child as their Headmistress but, equally, as their music teacher, where I will be able to spend true quality time getting to know them.
Focusing on the thrill of returning to school is a great motivator to put nerves to one side and walk through those doors assured and smiling. There are lots of people at Mylnhurst who can’t wait to see your child, myself included.