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 Advice for Parents and Carers

  • Schools have not ‘shut down’ – Although most children will not be able to physically

attend school you will still be able to communicate with senior leaders or, in some

instances, teachers.

  • Don’t try to replicate a full school timetable – It won’t be possible to replicate a full school

timetable for a variety of reasons. Giving yourself and your children permission to accept this

can be a big weight lifted.

  • Expect stress – This is an uncertain and unpredictable situation, stress and anxiety are normal.
  • Reassure children – Children can sometimes believe they are responsible for things that are

clearly beyond their control. Reassure children that it is the adult’s job to make sure things are

OK and to keep them safe.

  • Help children stay connected to their friends – Friendships are a key resiliency factor for

children and young people. Most children see their friends nearly every day of the week and so

not being in contact with them for some time might be upsetting. Is it possible for children to

talk to their friends on the phone? Perhaps establish a group Skype or WhatsApp call? Perhaps

they could write letters to each other.

  • Normalise the experience – Normalising the experience is likely to reduce anxiety for many

children. Reassure children that lots of adults and other children are in the same situation.

  •  Have a routine and structure – Having a plan and a predictable routine for the day can be

very reassuring. As adults we like to know what is going to happen, and children like this too.

A consistent routine lets everyone be secure about the plans for the day. It is often useful to

involve children in creating this routine, so that they feel part of the plan, rather than the plan

being imposed on them. You could display the routine using a timeline, or maybe pictures and

visuals. Encourage children to develop independence by referring to their own routine/plan


  • Don’t worry if the routine isn’t perfect – Remember, this isn’t a normal situation. If you find

that planning and sticking to the routine is causing more stress, friction or conflict, then it’s

OK to be more ‘free-flow’. Perhaps be guided by the activities that children want to do.

  • Avoid putting too much pressure on academic work – Most parents and carers aren’t teachers

and so it’s OK not to be doing ‘school work’ for six hours a day. It might be more important to

be spending time together, building relationships, enjoying shared activities and reassuring

children, as opposed to replicating the school timetable.

  • Try to keep work in one place – If children are doing school work or project work at home, try to

keep it all in one place so that it doesn’t spread out over the house. This can help to maintain

a work/home boundary. We know that people live in different circumstances that might mean

this isn’t always possible, so perhaps there might be other ways to ‘signal’ the end of working

e.g. putting away the work and then enjoying a favourite song or shared dance!

  • Reduce access to rolling news – It is important to keep up to date with new developments

and announcements, but it can be hard to switch off from the constant stream of news from

media outlets and social media. Reduce the time spent hearing, reading or watching news –

at the moment it might be overwhelming for adults and children. Try to protect children from

distressing media coverage.

  • Supervise children with screens – It is likely that children and young people will be using

screens more often over the coming weeks e.g. phones, tablets, gaming consoles and the

internet. If this is the case make sure they are supervised. Ensure appropriate content filters

are active – the UK Safer Internet Centre offers guidance on setting up parental control. Try

to ensure all children have a balanced range of activities each day. Involve children and young

people in these discussions so that they feel part of the plan.

  • Provide reassurance about exams being cancelled – Young people may now be concerned about the announcement that exams later this year will not be going ahead as planned. They may feel

like all their hard work has been for nothing. Reassure young people that the Prime Minister

has said that all children and young people will get the qualification they worked towards,

but acknowledge that the plan is a bit uncertain right now. Reassure young people that the

government and Department for Education are working on a plan.

  • Play – Play is fundamental to children’s wellbeing and development – children of all ages! It’s

also a great way to reduce stress in adults.


Extract from:

Coronavirus and UK schools closures: Support and advice for schools and parents/carers

Division of Educational and Child Psychology (DECP)

British Psychological Society (BPS)

Authors  Dan O’Hare, Melernie Meheux, Vivian Hill