Getting Through Together / Wellbeing for parents and whānau / Tamariki heading back to kura/school

Early childhood centres, kura and schools have now re-opened. There will be many mixed thoughts and feelings that parents, whānau and tamariki will be experiencing as well as teachers and kura/school staff.

Some parents and whānau will be feeling a sense of relief. Their tamariki can get back to kura/school to resume learning, see their friends and be able to get out of the confines of being cooped up inside and back to a routine that seems a little more normal. For younger tamariki it is a chance to socialise again with other little ones. Some parents may feel that having a break from some of the challenges and stresses of being “on-call” 24/7 will benefit themselves and their tamariki, increasing the wellbeing of the whole whānau. Others may feel sad that they won’t be spending as much time with their tamariki  as they were able to during the noho rāhui/lockdown. There will be sense of uncertainty for many about the changes ahead and it’s okay to feel anxiety and worry.

Remember that looking after your hauora/wellbeing at this time is especially important.

It’s important to acknowledge and understand that tamariki will be experiencing different thoughts and feelings about returning to kura/school. Some students may have enjoyed learning from home, while others may not have been able to do much learning for varying reasons. Some may feel like they might be behind their peers or worry they haven’t done enough work. Some are ready and wanting to connect again in the classroom while others may feel nervous about the return. It’s important that as whānau we don’t judge or compare our tamariki with others, as everyone’s experiences will be different. As parents and carers it’s important to acknowledge their feelings and listen with aroha and compassion.

“I am concerned about getting my son back into a morning routine as he has chosen to become a night owl over this period. I think he will again adapt and be resilient.” (George, parent to two teenagers).

The Ministry of Education recognises the importance of looking after the wellbeing of tamariki at school, especially during COVID-19. Many schools will be focusing on transitioning students back to school in a way that lowers anxiety and focuses on wellbeing in the first few days and weeks. The time it will take for children and some staff to reconnect and relax will be different for everyone. Wellbeing needs to be addressed before learning will happen.

For parents and students who are struggling to transition back to school it’s important to keep communicating with the school and see what supports they can offer.

As parents and whānau there are things you can do at home to help tamariki with big emotions such as anxiety.

Parents and tamariki may be feeling nervous or have concerns about how safe they will be back in their school environment. The Ministry of Education states that “public health advice is that schools, early learning services and tertiary institutions are safe to open onsite at Alert Level 2 to all learners” and will have “additional public health measures in place.” (ref:

Early childhood centres and kura/schools are required to implement measures to keep children, staff and whānau as safe as possible. Schools should be communicating with whānau about what these measures are. If you are unsure, contact your school and ask how it will be operating under alert level 2.

More information about how schools are expected to manage safety at this time visit here. For answers to frequently asked questions click here.

If for whatever reason you choose to keep your tamariki at home, communicate this with your school. Distance learning will be available if your tamariki remain at home.

For a list of resources for home learning check out a list of resources here

In summary

  • Acknowledge change and uncertainty can create stress and this is absolutely normal.
  • Acknowledge that it is going to take time to adjust to this new normal for yourself and your tamariki and it might not be easy.
  • Keep informed as to what measures the kura/school are taking to keep tamariki, staff and whānau safe, including the mental and emotional wellbeing of tamariki.
  • Communicate with the kura/school if you have any concerns and worries and ask how they can support your tamariki if they are struggling to adjust.

Remember all the things you can do to support your own wellbeing as you support your tamariki to adjust back to school.

Helpful resource:

Moist breath zone – NZ resource for schools