Going back to school with confidence with Claire Jones
With nearly six months out of school because of the coronavirus lockdown, many students will be going back to the classroom for the first time in September. In this episode of The School Success Formula podcast I talk to children's coach, Claire Jones, about how parents can support their children to go back to school with confidence.
Who is Claire Jones?
Claire is a mother of two and an NLP (neurolinguistic programming) practitioner and personal development coach. She specialises in helping children and teenagers understand and manage their own emotions so that they can get the results, behaviours and outcomes that they desire.
She came to NLP coaching after seeing what a difference it made in helping her son overcome his separation anxiety and she's passionate about helping as many young people as possible with their emotions.
How Claire has been supporting families through the coronavirus lockdown
Different young people have experienced lockdown in different ways.
Students who have been anxious and nervous in the school environment have thrived at home with both their parents present. However, some children who were already struggling have found that lockdown has driven greater anxiety, frustration or anger, accentuating their problems.
The kinds of worries and concerns Claire is hearing from children and teens about going back to school
Young children are being much more clingy because they haven't had the normal social interaction with family, grandparents, friends etc not being allowed to hug them.
In 10 and 11 year olds there are concerns around transition to secondary school because the usual settling in activities haven't taken place – this is generating even more anxiety than usual in what is normally an anxious time for students.
For older teens, taking their GCSEs and A Levels and moving on to university, the roadmap has changed so dramatically for them.
The biggest thing is for everyone is not knowing exactly what it will be like when they get back to school and inside the classroom – how the routines and their environment will have changed.
There is also the concern over catching and spreading the virus.
How parents can work out what their teens are worried about
Claire advises everyone to make sure you give your teenagers time and space to communicate with you openly. So, put your phone aside, or anything else you might be doing and spend time focused on them.
When they get back from a day at school ask them three simple questions:
- What score would you give you day out of ten?
- Can you describe your day to be in one word?
- Would you like to talk to me about your day?
Many teenagers will decide not to take you up on the offer of talking about their day immediately because they need to rest and process it – but asking them if they'd like to talk about it lets them know that you're interested and there to listen when they're ready.
The most important thing of all is to build rapport and tune into their thinking so that you can meet them where they're at and be there to offer your support.
In general, you'll know something's wrong if their behaviour is different from usual.
How can parents support their children to be confident about going back to school?
Claire advises you to create as much certainty as possible. For example, writing down or drawing a picture showing the things you know about going back to school e.g. all the desks facing the front and the teacher being in their socially distanced box at the front. This will create certainty.
As parents, you also need an awareness of how you're thinking, feeling and behaving because your children will be picking up on that and replicating it. So, if you're anxious, they will learn your anxiety from you.
Instead, picture what you want it to be like for your child going back to school. Come up with some positive language to describe your desired outcome e.g. ‘I want them to feel confident to go back to school'. Then, you can behave in a way that creates that outcome for your child.
There is no failure, only feedback
Claire shares these wise words with us to let us know that we're never failing our children, we're just collecting feedback about how to help them be the best versions of themselves.
This is great advice that you can use throughout life.
Where to find Claire and her Back to School with Confidence course
Lucy's 7 Tips to Start the School Year Right