Whether your child is starting school for the first time or beginning a new academic year with a new teacher, September can be a time of big transition for families. This may be heightened after being locked down as a family for much of this year.
Parents will often feel as emotional and nervous as their kids about the year ahead, and it’s natural for everyone to feel anxious about going back to school. Here are a few tips to help ease the transition to the structure and routine of a new term.
1. Introduce earlier bedtimes a week before returning to school if term-time bedtimes have slipped. Everything is easier to cope with on a good night’s sleep.
2. Involve your child in preparing for school by letting them name tag their possessions, choose a new pencil case or decide what they want in their lunchbox. Make it fun!
3. Talk regularly about school over dinner during the holidays. Encourage your kids to talk about how they’re feeling and, if they have back to school nerves, let them know it is perfectly normal to feel that way.
4. If possible, organise play dates with classmates before starting school so that your child sees some familiar faces when they arrive. Remember to follow government guidelines when doing this.
5. You could do a practice run to school before it starts; this takes away the ‘unknown’ element about starting school. Get up, have breakfast, get dressed and leave the house exactly as you will be during term-time. A great way to reduce back to school nerves.
6. Some children respond well to schedules – you could try drawing up a morning timetable with your child’s help. Work backwards from the time you need to leave and decide when your child needs to have breakfast, dress, brush teeth and so forth.
7. Make sure everything is ready the night before, and I mean everything. From uniforms and school bags to what your child will have for breakfast to knowing where your car keys are.
8. The night before school, wind things down early. Perhaps give your child a lavender bath, switch off the TV and try to keep things calm and quiet. There’s some great apps out there to help with mindfulness and meditating including Headspace and Calm. Using these apps regularly is a great habit to get into.
9. In the morning, make sure your child eats a good breakfast. Anxiety can upset the stomach but a nutritious breakfast like porridge can help and will give your child long lasting energy for the day ahead.
10. Some children worry about practical things such as not being able to open their lunchbox or do up their shoelaces. Many children hate the idea of using the school toilet so do try to find out if anything like this is worrying your little one. Practice things like lunchbox opening with them beforehand and speak to your child’s new teacher about any concerns.
If you would like more information on how to combat back to school nerves we recommend this Young Minds’ article and if you’re interested in reading more about returning to school after covid lockdown then check out this Mental Health Foundation article. Both are brilliant mental health charities campaigning to bring about awareness, change and support.
Good luck to all of the children starting or heading back to school. To keep up to date with back to school at KidStart check out our new Hub.
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