In this video and blog, we are going to explore:

Whether to send my child to school or not

After watching the video and going through this blog, you will be empowered about your choice to send your child to school. 

Overview

For many parents, COVID-19 has opened up a debate for parents: should I send my child to school or not. Government guidelines have altered so that Primary School children in Nursery, Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 are able to attend school. This has caused many parents great anguish as the question is not really whether I should send my child to school or not, but rather is it safe for me to do so. 

Whether to send my child to school or not

First of all, rather than feeling guilt over your choice, recognise that it is your decision and there is no judgement. The government is there to provide a service, and so they are offering a service to Primary School children. It is up to you whether you utilise that service. So, rather than looking at it from a moral perspective, look it from a pragmatic point of view – does it work. 

For some parents, sending their child to school creates workability, as both parent and child feel that there is structure, routine and some school work being completed. For some parents, sending their child to school creates dread and worry. Or, if you have other children, who are unable to attend school, it may not be practical to allow your child, who is eligible, to attend.

Look honestly at what is workable for you and then go with that. It is also worth noting what attachments you have formed around the decision. 

Here are some of the most common meanings parents attach to sending their child school:

  • If I send my child to school, and they contract COVID-19;
  • If I send my child to school, and they feel alienated as their friends are not attending school;
  • If I send my child to school, it might be overwhelming as they cannot hug or be near their friends;
  • If I send my child to school, they will receive a better education than being at home;
  • If I send my child to school, other parents, family members and friends will judge me for being selfish and putting my child at risk;
  • If I send my child to school, my other children will feel left out;
  • If I send my child to school, my day will be disrupted due to the new schedule from the school, which is a challenge since I am working from home.

Here are some of the most common meanings parents attach to not sending their child to school:

  • If I do not send my child to school, I am shielding them from COVID-19;
  • If I do not send my child to school, they will not receive a better education, as they will miss out from being at school;
  • If I do not send my child school, other parents, family members and friends will judge me for being selfish;
  • If I do not send my child to school, they will miss their friends more;
  • If I do not send my child to school, it will continue to make home life difficult, as it is challenging juggling work and home-schooling;
  • If I do not send my child to school, they may feel alienated, as their friends are attending school.

The most common reasons for and against sending children back to school overlap. This is not surprising when what is being engaged is our primal brain. The primal brain is responsible for survival, drive and instinct. 

So, how can you reach a decision that serves you, your children, your values and that is workable? By looking at workability. Make a list of all the reasons for and against sending your child to school. Remove any judgements or attachments. By doing this, you will be able to create workability. 

Ideal Day

To further help you reach a decision about sending your child to school or not, create your ideal day. What would your ideal day be? If possible, ask your child to do something similar.

Example ideal day sending child to school

My ideal day would be to wake up early at 7am and come downstairs and have a family breakfast. After this, we all get ready. My children are dressed in their smart school uniform. I get dressed for work. We then all leave for a lovely stroll in morning air to school. 

Arriving at school, I am reassured that the school has taken provisions to create a safe, friendly environment for my child. I can see that by reminders to wash hands and to stand apart. There are markings on the ground to ensure that the rules are adhered to.

Example ideal day not sending my child to school

My ideal day would be to wake up early at 7am and come downstairs and have a family breakfast. After this, we all get ready. Since my children are no longer attending school, they can wear whatever comfy clothes they like. I then set them up with the first task of the day – reading. A variety of books and e-books are on the table for the children to choose from. While they are doing independent reading, I am getting on with my morning work meeting.

When creating your ‘ideal day’ it is important to be as specific as possible. By doing this, it helps you to see what is needed to create your ideal day. For instance, if safety is at the forefront of your mind, then you can speak with staff at the school and ask about the measures in place to keep both staff and students safe. If you know any parents at the school, you can speak with them to hear their opinions. We feel more comfortable about a decision when we have feedback from people we trust. Therefore, gauging the perspective of a parent (and their child/children), who has sent their child to school (or plans to), you will be left feeling more confident with your choice. 

It is also important to note that during the whole pandemic, key-worker children have been attending school. If possible, ask them for their experiences. This may also help to assuage fears.

Ask your child

If your child is of an age where they understand what is happening, ask them for their input. It might be revealing for you to see their concerns on the matter. For most children, when asked if they want to return to school they reply they would because they miss their friends. Even children who are not keen on school say they want to go back because they prefer classroom learning over online learning. Equally, some children do not want to return to school because they enjoy their extra freedoms they have from being at home. They also prefer the autonomy of home-learning, as they are able to complete work quicker than at school, and have greater choice in what they study.

It is therefore worthwhile engaging your child, where appropriate, as it may help you to further create workability for you and your family.

Overall

It is not about guilt; it is not about morals. It is about what works for you, your child and your family. To help you make a decision, follow these steps:

  1. List all the reasons for and against sending your child to school;
  2. Create your ideal day and take steps to create it;
  3. Ask your child for their input.

Overall, remember, whatever choice you make, you can change your mind. If you send your child to school and decide it is not working, you can notify the school. You will not be penalised under the current government legislation. If you choose to keep your child home, but then decide you want to send them to school, you can speak with the school to see if it is possible for them to return.