Tips for a Tranquil Transition Back to School

4 simple things to make going back to school easier for your kids – & You

Back to School AnxietyThe summer holidays are fast drawing to a close and thoughts have turned to going back to school.

If you’re a parent of school age child it’s likely that you’ll be going out to buy school shoes, uniforms and school supplies. But another important and sometimes overlooked task is emotional and mental preparation for the return to school.

Over the holidays many kids stay up later and sleep in, have greater freedom to do what they want when they want, which often means more screen time, and are given flexibility with meal times and what they eat.

Starting or going back to school is a big transition which can be both exciting and stressful for kids.

Don’t let them be overwhelmed and unprepared and make life easier for you by following these simple steps.

Tip 1. Roll out the Routine

Start to transition your daily routine towards what it will be during the school term.

Establishing a normal (age appropriate) sleep pattern before school starts is vital.

Getting enough sleep is essential to good behaviour and concentration in the classroom. The early days of school can be exhausting so good sleep habits are key for helping kids cope and adjust to school again

  • Gradually move bedtimes earlier to ease the transition. It can be helpful to let them read a book in bed before lights out (avoid reading from a screen). Read a book to younger children.
  • Practice getting up at the same in each morning and set up a morning routine for kids to have breakfast and complete jobs like getting dressed, brushing teeth, making beds and tidying up their room.
  • Remind them that the jobs must be done before they have fun.
  • Plan some morning activities outside of the house before school starts. Like you will need to do on a school day, set a time for all chores to be completed and for everyone to be ready to leave the house.

Tip 2. Converse with your kid

Find out how your child feels about going back to school – don’t assume you know. Some will be excited to get back but others will be anxious.
  • Acknowledge and normalise their feelings instead of trying to cheer them up. Let them know that lots of kids have first day nerves and that they will probably ease off after the first day.
  • Try to answer their questions in a practical way without overwhelming them.
  • Be positive about the good things to look forward to in the coming term like the chance to meet new friends, re-connect with old ones, reading, playground activities, singing and art.
  • Be a calm and positive role model. Your child’s anxiety and stress levels often mirror your own.

Tip 3. Facilitate Familiarisation

For most kids (especially those starting school, moving schools or transitioning into high school) knowing when, where and how things are going to work in the first few days can help ease stress and anxiety.
  • If they don’t know already, get them familiar with how they will get to and from school, where their classroom, toilets and other important buildings are, who their teacher is and, if possible, some of the other kids in their grade.
  • If you have younger children returning to the same school, organise a play date with friends who will be in their class this year. Reconnecting with children can help reinforce the positive social aspects of returning to school.

Tip 4. Massage the Mind

After watching TV, playing video games or ‘just messing about’ for weeks many kids would benefit from a kick-start to their thinking skills before they get back to school.

Try to:

  • Visit the library and pick out some books they’ll enjoy
  • Play a board games or card games as a family. These are good for teaching decision-making, consequences and strategic thinking.
  • Play with some puzzles or activity books that are mentally stimulating

Disclaimer – this information is of a general nature only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice that takes into account individual circumstances.