Sydney parents anxious about return of face-to-face learning
While many parents with school kids consider the end of homeschooling duties to be "Freedom Day", the sentiment is not universal throughout Sydney.
As the New South Wales government moves up the return to school grounds for children of all grades to October 25, mother of two Kinta Cannon from Sydney's inner city can't help but feel anxious about her son Ollie's comeback from lockdown.
Currently attending Year 5 at Annandale Public School, Ollie suffers from ADHD and finds studying from home with one-on-one support more effective than the on-campus experience.
"He has told me that he doesn't have to worry about kids bullying him and he can take his time to complete the work with breaks and go back over things he doesn't understand."
Academically thriving in lockdown
Hypermobility syndromes also hinder Ollie's ability to cope with the fast pace of classroom learning and pressure of handwriting notes.
"Since everything is online, he has been able to put forward more comprehensive work, as he can type it out rather than rush it and not write a lot," Ms Cannon said.
Vicky Doneska from Sydney's inner-west has also been able to take advantage of homeschooling her five-year-old daughter Maisey, who currently attends kindergarten.
"I've tried to see this time as a privilege in being able to play an active part in her education and seeing what she gets up to at school," Ms Doneska said.
"We are new to sending our girl to school, so we like to keep track of her progress and the only way to do that has been either talking to her or her teachers after school."
'Going to be tough'
Despite having mixed feelings about Maisey returning to face-to-face learning, Ms Doneska said her daughter was eager to reunite and mingle with her school friends.
"I think the risks of mental strain on my daughter from the lack of social interactions far outweigh the risks of COVID exposures," Ms Doneska said.
While Ms Cannon agrees Ollie's integration with school mates would benefit her son in the long term, she wishes there was a buffer period for children with mental illness to transition more smoothly out of lockdown.
National clinical advisor Rupert Saunders from mental health service Headspace said some parents and carers may find emerging from lockdown particularly challenging, if they are supporting a young person who might be going through a tough time.
"It's important to remember that feelings of stress, anxiety or uncertainty about coming out of lockdown are completely valid," Mr Saunders said.
Easing children back into social activities
Ella McNamara from Leichardt is taking steps to ease her child's anxiety ahead of the big comeback.
"So, this week we are just walking up to the school and see it and mention that he will be back there."
"In a couple of weeks, we are hoping to be able to have him go into the classroom or even the playground by himself"
"A couple of days prior, we take him to the shops to choose some snacks for his lunch box."
"We are also going to reconnect him to one classmate in the next week and arrange for them to go to school on the first day together."
"The hope is that a little exposure and letting him choose snacks will allow him to feel a little in control of the situation."