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Helping your child get back to school after a bereavement

Helping Your Child Get Back To School After A Bereavement

Parents often tell us that returning to school after a bereavement can be a stressful time for families. It can be difficult for both children and the parents or carers supporting them. For the children, they are trying to understand the reality that their loved one has died. Whilst Parents or Carers may be worrying about how they will cope during the day and whether they may feel the need to hide their emotions.

Here are some ideas that may help returning to school following a bereavement feel a little easier:

Speak to their school  

Try to find a designated person to talk to about your child. Ask the school who this should be – a class teacher, a teaching assistant, the Home School Link Worker, the ELSA support. It helps to have some one that your child feels comfortable with. It could be that you need to ask directly who your point of contact will be, it is really helpful for you to have someone at the school that you can email directly if you need to make contact (trying to speak with a class teacher at drop off/pick up can be challenging). If you have an allocated Support Worker at Jigsaw South East, or any other organisation, you can let the school know their name. We can then contact school on your behalf if that feels easier.

Make mornings easier

The loss of a family member can change the routines around school time. It may be that drop offs and pick ups are done by a different person. Try to establish a new routine that you can manage and let the school know. Continuity is important after a bereavement, so letting your child know what will happen can help them. They may need repeated reassurance of the routine, such as who will be there at the end of the day to meet them.

A quiet space to transition from home to school

If leaving you at the start of the school day is hard, then ask the school if they can be met by the same staff member each day or go to an area in the school that is quieter than the class room (such as the SENCO office for example). This lets them have a few moments to transition emotionally from home to school.

Allow them to feel connected

Bereaved children often worry about what’s happening at home during the school day. Speak with school and see what they suggest to help your child, it may be that they can give your child a message from you or they can take in a transitional object (such as a toy or photo) to keep safe and use when they need to.

Ask to be made aware if there are any sensitive topics being planned in the curriculum

These could be topics around death or funeral rituals, family or books read in class that involve the death of a loved one. It’s helpful to know about these in advance so you can prepare your child and do what you think they need to manage the topic.

Remind teachers of your child’s sensitivity to certain events.

Mothers and Fathers Days can take on a new meaning for children bereaved of a parent or main care giver. If it is an anniversary or birthday then it could help the teachers to know so they can respond to any different emotions your child shows around this time.

Take steps to make transitions easier

Change and endings can be hard for bereaved children. Changing of a classroom or school year can mean something different when your child is bereaved. Try to manage this with your child by letting them know what is happening, ask the school if they can see their new classroom or teacher before term starts. We can provide extra information about this through our online support sessions and article about transitions.

Do keep talking, to us or the school.

Our Support Workers are available through our Helpline Monday to Friday on 01342 313895 between 9.30-12.30.

If you have made a referral and have a named Support Worker, please do let them know if you have any additional worries or concerns for your child at school. 

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