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Let's Talk: Supporting Your Child in Returning to School

14 September 2020

Our students are experiencing a very different start to school this September, and parents worldwide are doing whatever they can to ensure a smooth transition back to class. While some families are transforming rooms into study spaces and establishing a detailed daily schedule for full-time distance learning, other families are trying to ease their children back into physical classrooms, and helping them adjust to a new “normal”.

  • Let's Talk

Some students will get back into the swing of things without a fuss. Others will be very vocal about how they are facing the new academic year. But for many students, any worries and insecurities will manifest in less obvious ways. It is important to recognise subtle signs of an anxious child. Some of the signs may include: 

For younger students:  

  • More clingy than usual
  • Tries to escape 
  • Appears restless or cries 
  • Attempts to avoid activities through negotiation
  • Shows regressive behaviours e.g. baby language, thumb sucking
  • Bed wetting 
  • Refusal to discuss school
  • Disturbance in sleep and/or appetite 

For older students (12+) look out for: 

  • Outbursts of anger 
  • Isolation
  • Having a negative attitude 
  • Defiant 
  • Refusal to discuss school
  • Disturbances in sleep and/or appetite 
  • Excessive time on homework or avoidance of homework

Below are some helpful tips:

  1. Have open and honest discussions - have regular discussions about your child’s day. Talk about the high points and low points. 
  2. Reduce stress - be prepared. Have uniforms, lunches etc. ready for the next day. Encourage your child to be part of preparations, especially older students. Perhaps create a schedule together, this will help your child manage their time and feel in control.
  3. Provide opportunities for socialising - children need to engage in social interactions (while practicing social distancing) on a regular basis, this helps them cope with change and promotes the development of social skills (and it's fun!).
  4. Validate feelings- naming emotions, both good and difficult, let children know that they are being heard and that it is okay to share their feelings. This can promote future dialogue. Children can learn the correct vocabulary to express how they feel.
  5. Encourage problem solving - asking your child to think of different solutions and discussing the outcome of each promotes independence and confidence in problem solving. 
  6. Focus on the things that are going well - Highlighting what is working for them and what they are doing well builds resilience. 
  7. Encourage outdoor play - with children getting more screen time, it is important to balance their time with outdoor activities for physical and mental wellbeing.  
  8. Try to factor in some fun family time - Enjoy time together as a family where possible and limit discussions about school during fun activities. 

The above is a suggested list; there are so many things you and your family can do to make this time less stressful. Remember that you can always reach out to other members of the BIS Abu Dhabi community, such as your child's teachers, Head of Year, and the school counsellors.  

We know that this has been a difficult time for many and that everyone is trying their best. It is great to see some students returning to school full-time and we look forward to having all students back in the future. Please remember it’s important to take care of YOU during this time, too.

We have included some useful links below for more information on transitioning back to school:


  The BIS Abu Dhabi Counselling Team