Managing change and uncertainty in school

I have been really aware this week that there is a lot of uncertainty and change in routine In schools. One minute children are in class doing numeracy the next they are in the hall practising their performance. In the schools I’ve been working in teachers are having lesson observations and writing reports. It is also the time of year when children start wondering who their next teacher will be and teachers may also be wondering which year group and class they will have in September. All of this can create lots of stress and anxiety for school staff and children, especially those who may live with lots of change and uncertainty in their lives outside of school.

It can really help if all of this can be acknowledged to children. School staff can do this by acknowledging, describing and naming potential feelings.  For example, saying something like “we are going to be having lots of changes at school today and this can feel difficult and may feel scary”.  It can help to share with the children exactly what is going to be happening during each day and identifying anything that is  different from the usual routine.  For example “normally after break we do literacy but today after break we are going to the hall to practice our performance.  It can feel really hard when things keep changing all the time, so I am going to make sure that I always tell you when we will be doing something different.” Ensure you do this frequently throughout the day as many children, particularly those who have experienced trauma will not be able to retain this information. This  can create more anxiety for them. For example “normally after break we do literacy but today after break we are going to the hall to practice our performance.  It can feel really hard when things keep changing all the time, so I am going to make sure that I always tell you when we will be doing something different.”

You may have children in your class who are finding the change of routine difficult, have perhaps become more unsettled or their behaviour has changed in other ways. They may be trying to tell you that they are struggling with this, try some of the suggested examples to see if it helps.

Here are a couple more suggestions:

“Sometimes when we are doing lots of different things in our day it can make us feel more tired.”

“Sometimes doing our performance can make us feel scared and anxious. It can be frightening doing something new.”

 

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