This school year is going to be a little strange. Children have been off school for months. Parents have been trying their best to home school, work and keep a household going. There is no denying it’s been a really tough year. Not to mention the whole exam results fiasco (I’m really not sure what word to use other than fiasco). The pressure on parents has been immense.

It doesn’t stop though, the next big decision is whether parents should send their children back to school. There are so many opinions out there and unfortunately a few keyboard warriors who are strongly for as well as against children going back to school are adding to that pressure. It is completely a personal choice to you. You have to do what is right for you and your family.

Me personally, I have sent my little boy to nursery over the summer holidays and he has loved it. He adores children to play with and his delayed speech has improved so much with him being able to interact with other children. With it being just me I was getting to understand what he was implying and even though I have been working really hard with him to improve his speech without realising it I don’t correct him meaning that others don’t understand him like I do. When he is with other children and adults he has to work a little harder on being clearer with his speech so that they understand what he’s trying to tell them.

A child playing with cars. Photography credit: Sandy Millar
A child playing with cars. Photography credit: Sandy Millar

Older preemies of school age

Some older children who were born prematurely may have underlying medical conditions still. This will make some preemie parents nervous about sending their children back to school. Every parent will be able to empathise with this and understand the difficult decision being asked of parents.

The teachers have been working tirelessly to put plans in place and schedules that make it as safe as possible for the children. Risk assessments have been completed and double checked but not all schools will be able to offer social distancing or staggered breaks to the extent that some parents would like.

This is unfamiliar territory for everybody and we are all trying our best. It might take a few weeks for the new way of doing things to sink in and become the norm but we will get there. Stacey is going to be one of the parents who assesses how those early weeks go and see what kind of school experience her boys are getting. She will be keeping an open mind and will decide after a few weeks what is best for her boys’ wellbeing.

Apple on top of books next to ABC blocks. Photography credit: Element 5 digital
Apple on top of books next to ABC blocks. Photography credit: Element 5 digital

Are there alternatives to consider instead of going back to school?

Going back to school is not the only choice we have as parents. There is home schooling and flexi schooling. I didn’t know much about either of these options until recently. Home schooling is where usually parents take on the role as teacher. Many have this image of children being schooled by their parents in the same way a teacher would in a classroom. This is not the case at all!

Home schooling parents have built a good network between them. They have support groups, meet ups, organised learning sessions and have discovered a world of resources out there to help them school their children. This allows for a lot more flexibility when it comes to holidays and employment/self-employment options. It can require some organisation and discipline but many home schooled children thrive. If parents don’t want to do all the teaching then some also bring in the help of tutors.

Young boy with a book. Photography credit: Ben White
Young boy with a book. Photography credit: Ben White

Flexi schooling is something I had never heard of and I haven’t heard of many parents put this into practice. This is where a child attends school part time and is also home schooled. The numbers for this option have previously been exceptionally low. With the pandemic though this could be a good alternative option. This option requires the head teacher of the school to agree and tends to only be primary school aged children that are flexi schooled. The schools still receive the full amount of funding for flexi schoolers. Exam years are when the schools are not keen on flexi schooling. They will also want to consider how adaptable a pupil is to this style of learning as it can affect their friendships and their ability to keep up with the rest of the class in certain subjects.

Back to school – September 2020

It will be a second school year that will be different but if it’s one thing a preemie parent knows it is how resilient our children can be. Whatever your choice is we hope your child enjoys their learning experience this year. We know there might be some anxieties from both children and parents. Our advice is to keep communicating with the setting (school, nursery, childminder) your child is in. Remember this is new for everyone and it might take a few weeks for it to all feel normal. Take care of yourselves and your little ones.

Did you see?

Our blog on sleep issues with my preemie and the what the 2 guest experts had to say?

If you would like to join in with a preemie community then come and join our Facebook group the Preemie Support Village.

Also did you see that our NICU diaries are now available on Amazon! There are 5 diaries to choose from:

Green diary with duckling, dinosaur and giraffe
White diary with duckling, dinosaur and giraffe
Duckling diary
Dinosaur diary
Giraffe diary