Back to school

Last updated: 11/08/2020

Practical and wellbeing advice on returning to school during the coronavirus.

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After five months of schools being closed, pupils are now returning. Parents we work with have shared mixed emotions on how this is impacting their families. The return to school has been one of the main issues our local support services and the advisers on our Lone Parent Helpline have been asked about in recent weeks.

Lots of great sources of information and advice have been developed specifically to help with this transitional time. We’ve gathered some of these here to make them easier for you to find, along with links which could help with your and your children’s wellbeing if you’re finding things challenging.

My eldest (14) is actually dreading it, since March her confidence has returned. The school environment doesn't seem to do much for her mental health and that was before coronavirus. My seven-year-old doesn't cope well with change, and I'm very worried how he will manage. They attend different schools and their drop off times are changing due to COVID, so I'm not sure how I'll manage to drop them both at their requested times. If I'm working I would normally drop them off early, but that's no longer an option.

- single parent, submitted online

Back to school: what single parents say

See our latest COVID-19 Single Parent Family Impact Monitoring Report for July, in which ‘the return to school’ is our spotlight issue.

The report highlights the key issues single parents have been raising with us, as well as insights from our local services on the challenges they’re supporting families around.

Share your views and tips

As schools start back, we still want to hear what single parents feel about this and how their children are coping, as well as their tips for other families.

How are you and your children feeling about going back to school? Share your opinions and tips anonymously via this quick form. We will share some of these on our website and social media channels to support other single parents like you.

Useful resources for parents as schools return

ParentClub is a Scottish Government resource for parents on all kinds of issues. They’ve created a section on their website around schools and childcare reopening with videos, tips and all the information you need on what to expect in light of the coronavirus and the measures which will be in place to ensure your and other children’s safety. This includes advice on how you can support younger and older children through this time, whether they’re returning to school or starting secondary, primary or nursery.

Edinburgh City Council has made a list of ten tips to help your children with going back to school, along with a guide you can download. These tips could be a handy starting point to think about.

 

Financial support

Returning to school can be an expensive time, and this can be difficult for lots of single parents to manage at the best of times, so it’s even more important in light of the pandemic that you know there is financial support available.

ParentClub has this helpful page on support and benefits available to parents with relevant links to follow. You can visit the Gov.Scot website to find out how to apply for school clothing grants and free school meals, which you can get through your local council if you’re eligible.

ParentClub also has an article on top tips for saving on school costs.

For more information on support you might be entitled to see our Your Benefits section – the school age payment of the Best Start Grant might be especially useful.

And for help with budgeting or for money and debt advice go to our Your Money pages.

Additional support for learning

For parents with children who need additional support for learning for any reason, Enquire has a helpline and lots of online advice which can help with making sure your children’s needs are being met in school. In their section on how the coronavirus affects additional support for learning, they have lots of useful information on “questions about returning to school or nursery” and more.

Enquire also runs Reach, a website aimed at children and young people. This article on schools re-opening could be useful for young people who get support with their learning.

Learning at home

During lockdown there was a lot of discussion about learning at home and how parents can help. As schools return, this is still important – parents can make a big difference to their children’s education by getting involved in their learning. The ParentZone website has information about how you can do this.

Playing with your children is a big part of this. Play Scotland and Save the Children Scotland have launched a new ‘Play Well Pack’ in time for schools reopening to help parents with fun ideas to try with their children, and information on how this can make a difference to how children do in school and can help with their emotional wellbeing.

Bullying

Some children might be anxious about returning to school due to their relationships with other people in their school. If your child is being bullied, respectme has guidance for adults so you can help them through it, as well as advice for children and young people on what they can do.

Your child’s emotional wellbeing

The coronavirus pandemic continues to be a difficult experience for all of us, including children and young people. Supporting their emotional wellbeing during this time is vital. YoungScot’s AyeFeel is aimed at young people to help them with their wellbeing: it has articles, tips and videos on lots of topics including how to talk about your feelings and cope with stress and conflict.

If you’re concerned about your child’s mental health, the Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH) has helpful guidance for parents and guardians and suggestions of who to contact for support. They also have guidance aimed at children and young people.

YoungMinds also has an A-Z of advice for parents on how to help your children with a range of mental health issues.

Your emotional wellbeing

It’s also important to support your own mental wellbeing – this will have a positive impact on your children too. Take a look at our wellbeing pages for single parents.

We also recently created a new online resource called ‘My life and me’ to help single parents with lots of tips and useful links on looking after yourself, making time for yourself, and dealing with anxiety and stress.

Returning to work

Many workplaces are now reopening, meaning that lots of parents will be being asked to return after working from home or being on furlough. While schools are re-opening, there are still challenges for parents around balancing working hours with childcare and getting children to and from school. For single parents, this is often trickier, and some of the changes in light of the coronavirus means there are extra things to consider.

ParentClub has a page for parents returning to work, including a link to childcare options, advice on what to do if you can’t get childcare and are being asked to go back to work, and on what to do if you have safety concerns.

Asking for advice

If you feel your questions or concerns aren’t answered here, remember that the trained advisers on our Lone Parent Helpline are here to provide information and advice. You can call us on 0808 801 0323, chat to us live on our website, or email us at advice@opfs.org.uk.

You can also Ask a Question on our FAQ pages and the answer will be published there. Answers to the questions we’ve been asked already are available there, so take a look and see if anything there is relevant to you.