Transitions like going back to school are a normal part of life, but the changes many students are already experiencing, or will experience at the start of the next academic year, will be significant.
Whether your child is moving schools, to a new country, going into Secondary school or starting Primary, this transition will need to be carefully planned and sensitively managed.
There are various reasons why some students are more likely to struggle with going back to school than others, and if you believe your child will find transitioning difficult, be sure to inform the school beforehand so that you and your child can be supported.
How can parents help their children to go back to school?
Whatever your situation might be, here are 7 tips on how you can prepare your child for going back to school.
1. Talk about school
Your child might have worries about returning to school. You can help your child by managing their worries and anxieties by using the ‘Time for Us’ resource. Start talking about what your child’s daily routine could look like. It is hoped that there will be a clearer picture of what the ‘return to school’ plan will look like towards the end of the summer holidays.
2. Reintroduce the Sleep routine
No doubt that this will be a tough one to reintroduce, but helping your child return to their normal sleep routine in the weeks before school resumes will be essential in their ability to settle back into school life.
A strict sleep routine will be important specially for little children. They will be facing longer day and more formal teaching style which is very tiring – so be strict about early nights.
3. Reconnect with friends
Reconnecting with school friends will all help you and your child manage any worries and feelings related to transitions or school resuming after summer break.
4. Make yourself available
Create opportunities and a safe space for your child to talk to you in different ways, as they may want to come and talk to you at a time when you least expect. When the school starts make sure you discuss your child’s day with them – what they’ve learned, the highlights and things they found hard. It’s good to encourage a dialogue that can continue throughout their time at school, showing them that you are interested in what they’re learning and are there to support them.
5. Look at the positives together
It is helpful to talk about some of the positives that have come out of summer break. Also, talk about some of the things that you are and they are looking forward by going back to school which may alleviate some of their worries.
Do your best to show your excitement about the change. This will be reflected in your child’s own feelings – and when children feel excited, they take readily to new tasks and challenges. An activity such as heading out with your child to buy a new school bag or drink bottle can be a great way to get children feeling positive.
6. Start new routines
Don’t expect your children to go immediately from a relaxed and flexible holiday routine to a school routine. Allow at least one week before term begins to return to regular, set mealtimes and bedtimes – with other comforts such as a bedtime story.
If your child will be attending a new school, some routines will have to change. Routines are important for kids because they know what to expect. Before starting school you can show them the road to go to school, make them familiar with the new routine.
Allow plenty of time in the mornings to have a relaxed journey to school. Having a frantic morning can be very unsettling for children who are faced with a new environment at school. It’s also nice for both parents and children to have time in the mornings to talk about the day ahead – and have a little fun on the way in!
The day after the first day back to school will be a special time to share. Show interest: “How was it? What went on?” Build in that familiar routine of experiencing the school day and reflecting on it.
7. Prepare yourself too
It’s natural for parents to feel anxious when they drop off their children on their first day in a new School – but try not to let your own nerves show! Say a loving but quick goodbye and allow them to head into school without too much delay. When children arrive in the classroom with their classmates, they generally settle very quickly.
One solution doesn’t fit all. You know your children best and they all can react differently. Make sure there is an open dialogue and trust yourself.
If the problem arises, after few weeks into schools re-opening, and you feel that your child is not feeling settled and is not able to cope with new school challenges, it is recommended that you speak with the class teacher/form tutor or the school counselors about how best to support your child.
If you have doubts about how your child is doing after starting school, ask their teachers and talk to your child. Your child’s counsellor might also have referrals if you need more help.