This is a resource for educators working with children in P5 to S2. Educators can decide if activities are appropriate or could be amended for younger or older learners. All activities should be undertaken in the context of public health guidance for schools.
Recovery: A place to start
All our lives have undergone some degree of turmoil in recent months. While we must remember how resilient children can be, for many children lockdown may have been traumatic. Trauma is rooted in disempowerment and disconnection (Herman, 1992) both of which have been features of lockdown. If we consider our job now is to focus on recovery this must be about creating opportunities for children to reconnect with peers and school staff, and to support them to share their experiences and play a part in shaping what happens when they are back at school.
This resource has been designed to support conversations between children, and between children and adults in school, giving time and space to pause, reflect and then recover. The activities will support children’s recovery in terms of relationships and readiness to learn. Throughout the resource Children’s Parliament will share what we have learned to help you prepare for the conversations that will emerge. There has never been a more important time to listen to children and to respond to what they are telling us. Back to School will help you take a rights-based approach to supporting children’s recovery.
Using this Resource
The Children’s Parliament approach recognises children’s right to share their views and experiences, but also their right to not share their views and experiences. Our approach is also trauma-informed and recognises that there will be some issues, subjects and activities that some children may find distressing or embarrassing. It is important, particularly in light of children’s experiences of trauma and adverse experiences during lockdown and more generally, that no child feels they have to speak about subjects or do any activities that they might find stigmatising or upsetting. Some examples activities a child might find difficult are speaking about what and when they have been eating during lockdown (A Day in the Life Activity), being asked to close their eyes whilst in a room with other people (Making Shapes with Yoga Activity), or being asked to discuss their relationships with friends when they don’t have a friend (Friendships Bracelets Activity).
Although we can aim to deliver activities in trauma-sensitive and rights-respecting ways, there may be times that activities can bring up some difficult emotions for children. It is also important that children know who to speak to, and when they can speak to them, if this happens.
Furthermore, whereas some issues can be discussed in a group, other more sensitive topics and activities might be best explored individually. These activities can and should be adapted by educators in ways that sensitively support children to share their views and experiences when they want to, but also in ways that allow children to opt out in ways that don’t make them feel left out or embarrassed.
The Back to School resource was developed by Children’s Parliament with support from school staff in Aberdeen, Clackmannanshire, Dundee, and the Scottish Borders.
This resource for school staff is complemented by an activity pack for children called Adventures in Wellbeing, which was designed with Members of Children’s Parliament to support children’s health and wellbeing in the weeks and months after they return to school.
This resource and the children’s resource were funded through the Scottish Government Wellbeing Fund. We would like to thank the Scottish Government, and the school staff and children that were involved in shaping these resources.
1. Herman, JL. (1992) Trauma and Recovery. New York: Basic Books.