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Returning to School

There have been a number of requests from parents/carers carers for advice to support their children in the current global situation, with some recurring themes. Feedback from parents and carers has indicated that they would value some clear and comprehensive information and additional support  relating to home-schooling and the return to school.

In this section, Lucy Stevens and Fiona Quan (staff at Gloucestershire Healthy Living and Learning – GHLL) and Dr Melissa Parry (Educational Psychology Service) have created a brief double-sided leaflet with general advice and top tips.  In addition to this, a number of case studies are included with some suggestions and strategies from school staff, GHLL and Educational Psychology Service. There is a recorded example for primary aged children and secondary aged young people for each area, and the advice has also been typed for reference. The areas covered are:

  • Anxiety
  • Screen time
  • Bereavement and loss
  • Reconnecting and friendships
  • Engagement with learning tasks

The case studies provide some examples to try but these are not exhaustive,  as each child and young person, their situation or circumstances will be different.  Further individual advice and referrals to relevant services or agencies for more support may be required. Also, it is important to remember that school staff are available and happy to help – please do not be afraid to seek support from them!


Top tips for returning to school

  • Be aware of emotions
  • Emotional well-being is key
  • Organise and plan
  • Communication
  • Be creative

Returning to school can be challenging so its important to consider these topics for conversation

  • Engagement
  • Well-being
  • Anxiety
  • Friendships

In this section, Lucy Stevens and Fiona Quan (Gloucestershire Healthy Living and Learning) and Dr Melissa Parry (Educational Psychology Service) have created a brief double-sided leaflet with general advice and top tips, and a number of case studies with some suggestions and strategies from school staff, GHLL and EPS. 

For more information and to download the complete guide click  handy guide. 


Case Study examples for Primary and Secondary age pupils

  • Are you or your child concerned about:
  • Anxiety and Worry
  • Screen time
  • Loss and Bereavement
  • Reconnecting and peer relationships
  • School engagement and separation anxiety

Take a look at these case study examples and advice on these topics from our Educational Psychologist.

VIDEO Primary Anxiety

VIDEO Primary Screen Time

VIDEO Primary Loss and Bereavement

VIDEO Primary Reconnecting and Peer Relationships

VIDEO Primary School Engagement and Separation Anxiety


VIDEO Secondary Anxiety

VIDEO Secondary Screen Time

VIDEO Secondary Loss and Bereavement

VIDEO Secondary Reconnecting and Peer Relationships

VIDEO Secondary School Engagement and Separation Anxiety


Emotion Coaching for Parents/ Carers

This is a 3 part animation designed with the help of Educational and Developmental Psychologists, to convey, in easy to understand English, why we need to think about our emotions, the science of emotions and how to emotion coach. 

VIDEO White board animation on emotion coaching for parents


Psychoeducation for children, young people, carers and parents

These short films can help clients learn about wellbeing. They share learnings about mild to moderate mental health concerns including low mood, worry and self esteem. In addition, there are three specialist explainers: one on sleep and two on secondary transition for parents/ carers and for young people respectively. We all have mental health and Young Minds Matter (YMM) hopes that learning about what it is will help to build and sustain resilience, minimise distress and scaffold how to re-engage with life for children, young people and their parents/ carers.                                                                                                                                                                     

You might want to share these films on YMM chat, with schools, parents or young people you meet. Clients might benefit from the empowerment of learning independently outside of a session.

Learning about moving to secondary school


How to support your young person with transition anxiety – for parents and carers


How to manage worries about moving to secondary school – for children and young people



We have two workbooks to support young people in their transition to secondary school. They are learning stage adapted so please choose the relevant level for the young person you support. Please find each attached in both pdf and word formats.

Learning how to protect our mental health


  • Sleep



  • Understanding low mood



  • Understanding worry




Read-aloud picture books


Empathy Lab have released new read-alouds for 2021. There’s a great collection of readings for upper primary and lower secondary about how it feels to be new or struggling to make friends. There’s an extract from 'Five Ways to Make a Friend' by Gillian Cross, and Matt Abbott reading his poem 'The Dinner Invitation', about Ahmed who has started at a new school in Y6 - how will he make any friends if no-one talks to him? Then there’s Cath Howe reading a chapter of Ella on the Outside, a tale that will strike a chord with anyone who has felt the pressure to please a new friend or has struggled to fit in. Steve Camden reads First Day from Everything All At Once, his poetry collection about life at secondary school. Discover sharp insights into anxieties about fitting in, first love, and hiding in the loos.


More from EmpathyLab

We especially liked the poems by Matt Goodfellow (‘Strest’ – the day Charlie cried)- good for Y6 and secondary - that explore the difference between inside feelings and what we show on the outside. They would be very useful to use with boys.

If you are working on the issues facing refugees and migrants, Wendy Meddour reads Lubna and Pebble, a picture book for young children with an unforgettable story that subtly addresses their experience.


For older children (Y6 and secondary) Sonia Beck reads the moving Did You See Me? by Kit de Waal , and Moniza Alvi reads The Camp from the poetry anthology A Country to Call Home, edited by Lucy Popescu.

On the Empathy Lab link you’ll also find great read alouds from previous years, including Joseph Coelho reading Elmer's Birthday by David McKee. The elephants pretend to have forgotten Elmer's birthday but things don't go entirely to plan...Published to celebrate 30 years of Elmer the Patchwork Elephant, helping children to understand that being different is just fine.