Mixed feelings about the return to school

Like their parents, children can have mixed feelings about going back to school. They may be excited at a new term and being back with friends, or apprehensive about the new school year.

And very young children are unlikely to have any concept of going back to school – the whole experience could come as a shock to them.

For children who struggle at school, whether it is socially or academically, the thought of returning may cause feelings of distress. It can help to prepare them in advance by talking about it, and to expect some 'back to school blues'.

Back to routine

Seasoned parents who have been through the 'back to school' experience before will often have their own strategies for making a successful transition from holidays to school.

Some start by bringing back a stricter routine, including reinstating school day bedtimes, a few days before school starts again, helping to make the change back less of a shock.

Talking about going back to school with the child and involving them in packing their bags and preparation can help very young children understand what it means.

Forum member and adoptive mum Dimples puts together a 'what we will be doing' illustrated timetable so that everyone knows exactly what is happening. Monday's timetable might read:

  • 7am get up and dressed
  • 7.30am have breakfast and do teeth
  • 8am have hair done
  • 8.15am shoes on, lunch into bag be ready to go
  • 3pm come home with Mrs Smith next door
  • 5pm tea time
  • 6pm family time
  • 7pm story time and brush teeth
  • 7.30pm bedtime

Starting at a new school

The first day at a new school can be terrifying! Children might be excited about growing up and moving on to something new, but these feelings can be mixed with fear at the sight of large buildings, worries about getting lost and being surrounded by lots of big and noisy children.

Here are some tips to help a child settle into a new school:

  • Visit the school with your child to meet teachers and see the building beforehand.
  • Acknowledge any feelings of nervousness - try saying, 'it's only natural to feel nervous'.
  • Give advanced notice of the child's situation and particular needs.
  • Try not to show any anxiety, as this might increase the child's anxiety.
  • Talk about the change with your child beforehand – discuss any worries and tell them where to go for information or advice, i.e. 'what happens if I get lost?'
  • Look through the school prospectus together, discuss rules and regulations and uniform requirements.

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