You might have already seen our series of tips for new starters, but what about older children transitioning into a new year at school? We asked Jennifer from Be Happy Resources for some tips on how to prepare returners for going back to school. If your child is anything like mine some of the worries have already started to surface about going back and transitioning into a new class, so we plan to take note and try some of these ourselves!
How to Emotionally Prepare your Child for Going Back to School
It doesn't seem like two minutes have passed since they broke up, now we're talking about getting them ready to go back - here are our tips to help your child feel excited, prepared and confident to start a new year.
When to get your child ready for returning to school
Preparing your child early on helps them to manage and process how they're feeling about returning, allows them to build up their confidence and helps you to address any worries they may have. We would suggest starting to prepare them around two weeks before the start of the new term.
1. Get them back into routine
If you've been letting your child stay up later than usual or having lazier mornings,
around two weeks before the start of the school year, start getting them to bed and
up at the times they would during term time. Try and mimic the school routine as
best you can, by waking up, getting dressed and getting ready for the day as you
would during term time.
2. Arrange play dates with school friends
Depending on your child's friendship groups, try setting up play dates with other
children from their class that they might not see as much to get them used to being
around their peers. If your child is worried about starting a new class - reach out to
parents (if you can) and see if they would be up for arranging a get together before
the start of term.
3. Get them used to doing school work again
We all make promises with ourselves to continue the learning at home during the
holidays but between working, childcare and summer plans, the best laid plans
always go astray! If you've been a bit lax on the reading front over the summer for example, start getting them into the routine of reading and preparing them for things they'll be learning at school. You can use some of our resources, or pop down to your local Home Bargains and invest in some low cost workbooks - these are great to have around the house.
4. Set goals for the new school year
You can help get your child get excited for a new year by having them think about all the things they achieved last year and all the things they want to achieve this year. Setting goals is extremely beneficial for children’s wellbeing, helping them to feel prepared and motivated.
5. Take them shopping for supplies
Whether it's for new shoes, a new school bag or water bottle, get them excited by
picking out their own things for school. Take them shopping when you plan to pick up uniform and stationery too! This helps them feel a bit more in control about
everything that’s happening around them. When you’re shopping, engage your child
in conversation about how they will use each item at school or where it will go, this
helps remind them of the things they do at school and helps mentally prepare them
for going back. For example, you can ask what they think they will need in their
school bag and where they will keep it at school when its not being used.
6. Do the school run
If your school is local and weather permitting, try and head out for a walk to school
and back. Get them familiarised with the building again and used to travelling the
route to school every day. If your child is starting a new school, practise the school
run a few times and explore the grounds around the school to help them build some
familiarity and ease any first day nerves.
7. Validate and explore their feelings
Ask them how they're feeling about returning to school regularly and what they're
excited for/worried about. Make time to engage in conversation when there are no
distractions - such as when they are winding down for bed and feel relaxed.
Reassure them all feelings are normal. You can even use some of our resources to
explore thoughts and emotions too!
8. Reassure them that mistakes are normal
Before returning to school remind children that mistakes are normal. Some children
fear going back to school because they’re afraid they may get something wrong,
they’re not sure what to do or they may make mistakes - this can be a catalyst for
anxiety. Throughout the summer holidays, make time to show and teach your
children that mistakes are part of life and help us grow and learn.
A huge thanks for Jennifer for her amazing advice! we are huge fans of The Hub and use it regularly, you can get access to hundreds of activities and resources for £1.99 a month to support your childs mental health and wellbeing.
And don't forget that if you are purchasing Love Note Patches you have free access to some of the Be Happy Resources summer journals which may also help with the transition including "back to school" and "separation anxiety" 😊