Heading back to school can be a stressful time for both children and parents. A few back to school jitters is completely normal, but there are some things you can do to help ease the anxiety and make the transition that little bit easier for everyone.
Start the back to school routine early
It is very hard to get out of the routine of staying up a bit later than usual and waking up later. To help children get back into the old schedule, try starting the new early bedtimes and early morning routine a few days or weeks before heading back to school. A structured routine like this can help to ease anxiety.
Kids really get into the rhythm of being off school, and this has a bigger impact than adults realise. Patterns can’t be adjusted literally overnight. It is time to dig out those school bags and supplies. Getting your child engaged now will help them feel more in control.
Do something fun in the middle of the week
When your children are back at school, that doesn’t mean the fun has to stop. If you have the time, plan a fun-mid week activity for the whole family to enjoy after school so the week doesn’t seen as long and daunting. Whether it is heading over the local park, a special dinner or an ice-cream treat, these can all help to keep the kids engaged.
Determine what is causing the anxiety
If your child is anxious about going back to school, chances are there is a reason behind it. Some children may be worried about seeing their friends again, some may be worried about leaving their parents for the whole day, but getting to the bottom of the issue is a good start. Once you gave a better idea about what is going on, it will be easier to discuss it with them and find solutions to help overcome their nerves.
For younger children, the feeling may be confusing, and they may have trouble understanding their emotions. You could make some emoji cards, or pictures to show different emotions, which may make it easier for you or your child to talk about any worries.
One of the best things you can do for your children during this time to is to be available to simply listen to them. If children have questions about school, or once they are back and want to tell you about their day, parents should take the time to listen with full attention.
Try to make heading back to school a positive thing, something to look forward to rather than get nervous about. You could chat about past experiences they have enjoyed at school, look at old photos, talk about the friends that they are excited to see again. School trips and outings are a good place to start.
Reach out to the teacher
If one person should know about a pupil being worried about going back to school in addition to the parents, it is the teacher. Many parents are pretty reluctant to reach out to a teacher in these situations, but teachers will not mind at all, and will be happy to help in any way they can. If your child has specific anxiety about, for example, speaking in front of the class, let the teacher know. They can use this information when planning lessons and prepare for the worries that your child is facing.
Get enough sleep
Anything can seem a lot worse if we are tired. Emotions run high and little things can feel like really big things. Anxiety is much worse if sleep and sleep patterns are bad, so make sure your children are getting sufficient sleep every night.
Make social connections
Many children have anxiety around friends, so getting in contact with a few before heading back to school can make a big difference when it comes to starting school again. Chances are, they have gone a long period of time not seeing someone they are used to seeing every single day, so it is only natural to feel a little nervous. Make the meeting less of a big deal by setting up some contact first.
Give it time
Remember, it is only natural to be feeling nervous about going back to school, and there are no quick fixes. Not everyone is going to adjust easily overnight, every child is different. Just be patient. Every day can bring new challenges, and it is completely normal for the first few weeks back to be a bit strange, but over time, things should start feeling more normal.