During a year at school, friendships change, children change, they develop new interests and passions. Old friendships may wane and new relationships flourish.
This year children have grown, developed and blossomed in isolation. They have found new interests as you, as parents, have looked for activities to replace sport, afterschool clubs and even long awaited holidays.
Children have taken up cooking, gardening, drawing and writing. Many have gained four legged family members. Puppies and kittens have provided children with entertainment, distraction, love and responsibilities. These interests, while supporting children to cope during their time in lockdown, have helped them to grow and expand their view of the world.
Shared experiences and interests are key for friendships. For many children those collective experiences may not have been possible while doing remote learning. Many children have not been able to see their friends. As your child returns to school, their friendships may have taken a hit.
For most children they will returned to their close friends and relish being able to play together again. Some children may have found someone amongst their peer group who shares the same interest. This has strengthened their bond. Others have formed new friendships with school peers online because of shared hobbies and interest.
Upon returning to school some children will reconnect with old friends, others will initially slot back into old friendships only to find in a few weeks that they have different interests. Other children have developed new skills independently or within their family group. This can mean that a child may not be able to find a peer to share this passion.
What can you do?
Schools will support children as they return to onsite learning. This will not be to restricted academic progress. School staff will keenly observe friendships and social interactions.
As a parent, be curious, find out who your child is making connection with, be aware that friendships may have changed. It is not a negative result; your child has grown, changed. This is something to celebrate.
Your child may take some time to adjust to the change in their friendships. That is okay. Remember what you probably told your child when they started at a new school or were placed in a class without their “best friend”. “It’s going to be great. You can lots of make new friends.”
As a parent you can say that but you also can be holding your breath, hoping it all works out well. Most of the time that is exactly what happens. There can be a period of adjustment. Hopefully, the excitement of being back at school will keep your child buoyant.
Watch, wait and be there for your child as they get back into the flow of school. Contact your child’s teacher if you have concerns.