The New Normal- Transition back to school during Covid 19

One of the very few positives about experiencing a global pandemic is that there is a global response to crisis. Teachers and Mental Health advocates have worked tirelessly to prepare students and schools for the transition back to school. To provide practical support to parents and teachers I have curated a selection of the many resources from across the globe, which you may find useful.

The Psychology Society of Ireland produced an excellent document about supporting the return to school. It is comprehensive, practical and evidence informed document. It would be very useful for a SEN team drawing up a transition plan.

For teenagers with Intellectual disability explaining the new normal has presented a lot of challenges, particularly as many of the health promotion advice is in written form. The website books beyond words has an excellent series of picture books designed for this group. Core issues such as social distancing, getting a covid test and dealing with bereavement are all covered in clear age appropriate way.https://booksbeyondwords.co.uk/coping-with-coronavirus

A lovely resource from New Zealand takes a creative and Arts based approach to supporting social and emotional learning post disaster. A very practical website with lesson plans and videos, it focuses on the power of creativity. A useful resource ready to go as is with minimal adjusting. In Irish schools it may even prompt a useful discussion about the native language and customs of other countries. http://www.teritori.org

This short powerpoint resource from Touchbase UK takes a trauma informed approach and looks at self care and emotional regulation. A useful addition for a school pastoral care team. http://www.touchbase.org.uk

This comprehensive resource from Young minds includes short film clips and other resources. It is UK based so some of the terms may not work in Ireland but the experience of transition and its accompanying nerves and anxiety is universal and 1st year heads and pastoral care teams will find it useful. https://youngminds.org.uk/resources/school-resources/find-your-feet-transitioning-to-secondary-school/

This short film called Mind the Gap transition to post primary was produced in Ireland  by the Navan School Completion Team and is an excellent resource for Irish teachers of 6th class and First year.

Parents and staff are understandably very worried about the mental health and well being of the young people in their care. This booklet from NHS Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health team was designed to support people manage during lockdown. However the CBT informed approach and the accessible language and format make it a very useful resource for SEN and Pastoral care teams supporting students experiencing anxiety. A useful part of a well-being tool kit.

Another excellent resource for CBT orientated approaches to anxiety is Anxiety Canada. A veritable treasure trove of PDF and e learning modules for children and adults it is a very useful and practical resource for SEN teachers. http://www.anxietycanada.com

The NCSE (National Council for Special Education) has some useful resources for supporting students, particularly strong resources for students with ASD. http://www.ncse.ie

Sadly many children and young people will have experienced bereavement in the last 6 months. This website is an excellent resource about responding to grief in classrooms with sensitivity. https://www.childhoodbereavement.ie/schools/primary-school-teachers/teachers-you-are-an-important-resource/

Staff well-being is a critical part of a successful transition to a new normal. Now more so than ever the phrase ‘you can’t pour from an empty cup’ is relevant. This free course from the Public Health team in Wales is easily accessible and divided into small chunks so easier to squeeze a few minutes of ‘me’ time into each day https://phw.nhs.wales/services-and-teams/activate-your-life/

Finally the most important message to remember over the next few months will be the value of human connection.

Consistent Clear Communication that values connection over confrontation will be essential.

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