Advice for families navigating the tension around the reopening of schools

The provisions do not make room for children who face other health issues.
The provisions do not make room for children who face other health issues.

Krsangi Radhe is the founder of Sankalpa Coaching, where she helps women and children eradicate their limiting beliefs so that they live fulfilled and happy lives. She is also a teacher in the public sector, an author, a speaker and a mother.  

The anxiety and fear around the reopening of schools are real.

You are not alone when it comes to navigating through the dynamic of sending your child back into a world of "unknowns".

As the South African Basic Education Department welcomes an initial group of pupils back to classrooms – both parents and children have to adjust to new norms and standards.

As a teacher in the public sector, life coach and mum (whose elder daughter is in Grade 7 which means that my daughter phases in with the first group of pupils) – I understand the anxiety parents are facing at multiple levels.

Even people who have returned to the workplace after the hard lockdown have experienced fear and anxiety at varied degrees.   

Teachers feel the same fear and anxiety – with the added responsibility of covering the curriculum, helping children adapt and trying to keep them safe and happy at the same time. 

This is indeed a tall order right now as there are so many variables that are in play. Parents on the other hand, have the daunting task of decision-making.

Discussions in many homes right now take place around the back-to-school or homeschooling option. With so many factors to consider, every family faces different challenges when it comes to deciding on the best way possible.

In many cases, there is no right or wrong answer during this time.  All we need to do during this time is to keep safe and keep a positive outlook. 

Both these seem difficult – yet possible.

When you are considering going back to school, be mindful of the following:

1. Talk to your child about Covid-19 and the impact the pandemic has had globally. 

Of course, this discussion will be age dependant and with careful consideration of the maturity of your child. As parents, it is our responsibility to educate our children on the correct way to wear a mask, what social distancing is about and all the other hygienic practices that need to be followed during this time. 

This can be done in a practical way at home  - and parents and children can get involved in family time together by demonstrating handwashing activities, social distancing in the garden and correct mask-wearing tutorials. 

These super serious educational sessions can be turned into something relaxed, which is easy to implement.

2. Do not express extreme fear or anxiety when speaking to your child. 

Remember that your child picks up the energy that you spread – therefore be sure to share positive energy during this time. Through promoting a positive outlook during this time – you will give your child strength and encouragement.

3. Be realistic as to what works best within your home.

Parents are encouraged to discuss the family dynamic and options available during this time.

Consult with your child too (age dependant) on how the rest of the school year will look within your home.   

Will homeschooling work for your family or do you feel that your child thrives in a classroom environment? Remember that this is a brand new situation wherein every family is navigating so many unknown factors at the moment. You are not alone.

4. Do not fall into the comparison trap. Simply do what is best for your family unit. 

Do not follow trends of others within your circle. Engage with other parents but do not feel intimidated to follow what others do.  Always remember that your situation belongs to you and you will do what is best for your family. 

5. Celebrate the uniqueness of every child. 

Perhaps you have a child who is a self-starter and is quite independent, and another who is quite dependent on you right now. Expect changes in their personalities during this time – as children are fearful too. 

Offer positives, look for their strengths and allow them to thrive on that.  

As parents, our innate feeling is to love and care for our children and preserve our family unit in the best and safest way possible, therefore any chance of exposure to the novel coronavirus brings uneasiness.   

Keep this in mind and tread cautiously with love and compassion. 

There is way too much negativity in the world right now. The onus rests within the individual to spark joy within the home.

When you are feeling overwhelmed, take a deep breath, focus on the "here and now" and re-ground yourself to the present moment.  

Are you concerned about sending your children back to school?

Let us know. Share your story with Parent24. Anonymous contributions are welcome.

Email: Share your story with us via email at chatback @

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