After a long, hot summer we have never been so ready for the kids to get back inside the classroom! But after years of changes to their learning routine, it’s only natural that there might be a little anxiety about the school year ahead.
That first day of school is always filled with a mix of excitement and nervousness, even if your little (or big!) ones are excited to see their friends and get back to a routine. It’s best to address this back to school anxiety sooner rather than later as there are a lot of unknowns for children and making the transition can be daunting. So, what can we do to ease their stress?
Read More: Get Back To School Ready With Sassy Mama
Talk With Your Kids
Establish open communication and chat about your own experiences at school – the things you loved, the friends you made and your favourite activities. Your children will love to hear about your school days and it will help them to normalise their own feelings. Encourage them to share their own worries, following up with validating statements like “I remember feeling that way too”. Avoid questions which lead them to think about their nerves like “Are you nervous?”.
Make sure your children know that they can come to you with any problem and that you’ll listen to them and talk through their fears. Give them all the encouragement they need and a little more attention than usual in the run-up to the start of term. Remind them that they will make wonderful new friends and that you’re looking forward to hearing about each day when they come home.
Be Patient During The First Weeks And Months
Your child might settle into school straight away or it might take them a little longer. Be patient with them and let them take as much time as they need (even if they act out, which they might), as they’ll need support in different ways at different times. Listen to what they have to say and concentrate on how to get to the end goal of enjoying school, rather than when they’ll get there.
Get Back To School Ready
Prepare your children for the year ahead and try to turn their back to school anxiety into excitement. Take them shopping for new stationery, files for their work, snacks and maybe even a new backpack. Get everything packed up and ready to go for the first day and put it by the front door.
Talk to your children about what they’ll be doing in their upcoming year at school and prepare them in terms of location, syllabus and teacher. If they are starting at a new school, they probably haven’t had a chance to visit the campus yet. If possible, see if they can talk to a student who is already there. This can really help to take the mystery and fear out of the experience. Since you may not be able to visit the campus in person right now, go through the school website, and show your kids virtual tours and photos of school life there.
Transition Your Schedule
You may need a bit of practice getting up and ready for the day after the summer break! Especially when there are early buses to catch. In the run-up to the resumption of classes, begin to move your children’s schedule into a more structured, term-time pattern. Make sure they get plenty of sleep but don’t let them sleep in too long or they will feel tired and cranky with the shock of the early morning school starts!
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in 2016, updated in September 2020, and most recently updated in August 2022.