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Welcome back! Sumdog’s top tips for Back-to-School

Back-to-school is going to look a little different this year, both for teachers and students. With many children being away from the classroom for almost six months, and some children remaining at home in some US states, the return to learning needs some careful planning.

All students’ experiences will have been slightly different, as will be their resilience and ability to cope with those experiences. Many children might be feeling anxious about their return to school; worrying about their health, catching up with school work they’ve missed out on, or transitioning to a new school. Health and wellbeing need to be at the forefront of our back-to-school plans this year.

To help welcome students back into the classroom this year, here are some top tips and strategies to consider.  

Revise content that students have previously covered to boost their confidence

Upon return from the lockdown period, students may not feel able to go straight back into learning immediately when they return to school. Bereavements, trauma or simply the lockdown period itself may have disrupted children’s ability to focus. This means that it can be useful to revise topics that students have already covered to boost their confidence as they adjust back to the school setting.

Balance work with opportunities for creativity and conversation

Where schedules allow, it could be helpful to gradually phase in lessons, balancing more academic lessons with opportunities for creativity and conversation. The return to school may be the first contact that some students have had with each other in many weeks. Immediately going back to a full academic timetable will be challenging as students may have had a long period without a proper daily routine. We reached out to some of our teachers to find out how they’re planning to tackle the back to school period. Lynne Scott, a teacher at Sandwood Primary in Glasgow, returned to school in August, and had some very fun advice to share…

Looking for more space to teach this year?  Get your class outdoors as often as you can. Don’t fancy getting a damp bahookie when sitting on the ground? Why not combine your getting-to-know-you lesson by getting you and your class to make their own outdoor mats? Collect some old newspapers, fold each double page landscape style in half and then half again. Repeat until you have 12. Now place 6 folded pages side by side and get them weaving the other 6 to make a stronger mat. Get out the tape and stick. Now for the creative part – let the children design the front cover with their name and big colourful pictures of the things that interest them. Cover with some polythene and let the fun outdoor teaching commence.

We really love Lynne’s idea of crafting your very own outdoor mats. If you’re feeling brave, share your efforts @sumdog. We’d love to see what you and your class come up with!

Communication is key

These unprecedented times are worrying for everyone, so good communication is becoming increasingly important. Try keeping track of how your students are feeling and ensure they are able to settle back in again, and if there are any issues, convey these to their parent or guardian. Parents/guardians will also want to know what safeguards have been put in place to minimize health risks and it is the role of the schools to ensure that parents are continually informed in order to minimise worry as much as possible. Keeping this communication between students, teachers and parents as regular and open as possible will help to ensure that everyone is comfortable with the back-to-school situation.

Plan for the possibility of school disruption

In this unique circumstance, no one is sure what effect the back-to-school period will have on the prevalence of COVID-19. If transmission is increasing in your community or if multiple children or staff test positive for COVID-19, the school building might be forced to close. Similarly, if a close contact of a student or teacher tests positive for COVID-19, they may need to stay home for a 2-week quarantine period. In each of these cases, there would be some form of disruption to either teaching or learning. As a result, it will be useful to try and plan ahead for methods to keep learning consistent regardless of whether students are working from school or remotely. This can be done by considering what online learning platforms you can use to ensure that students who can’t attend school are still able to access content.

Keep track of student’s progress

Timetables may look different during the back-to-school period in order to allow for the optimal safety of staff and students. This makes it increasingly important for teachers to keep track of where students are at, in order to prevent there from being a gap in their learning. The new Sumdog diagnostic tool can help with this, as it assesses students in an informal setting and allows teachers to better understand where children are against age-related expectations. From there, Sumdog plans out skills that students need to work on, in order to reach their full potential. In this way, regardless of possible school disruptions, Sumdog can help teachers to advance all of their students in an effective way.

Stay positive and stay connected

We hope that you’ve found these tips helpful, and that the back-to-school period runs as smoothly as possible for everyone. Remember, our support team is always available to help you make the most of Sumdog! We’re here to help, and we want to give recognition to the amazing teachers who have worked relentlessly to keep education progressing, even outside of the school walls.With that in mind, we’d like to hand the final word back to teacher Lynne Scott, whose positive words have already inspired all of us here at Sumdog:

After 5 long months, the days full of variety are here at last with our little cherubs back at school. Feeling anxious? I think we all are: children, parents and the world included. Wondering how you will cope in these new times? Just think back to the 20th March where our world of teaching was turned upside down. Did we find new ways to teach our kids? Absolutely. Think about how much you achieved in such a short time, using lots of innovative ways to engage our precious young learners. So, we can do it again. Yes, it will be different, but we will find the ways to reconnect and progress… Looking at the sea of beaming little faces, you can do anything! Take care, be safe, look after yourself, your family, colleagues, students and together we will make this work.