The beginning of a new school year is always a daunting and exciting time, but 2020 is likely to be tougher than usual when your kids go back to school this September.
The coronavirus pandemic meant that children across the world had to be kept at home for home schooling from March. And with many people choosing not to send their children back to school until September, the habit of going into a classroom with dozens of other children could be unnerving for your little ones.
We’ve put together some tips on how you can make the transition a little bit easier this year.
Your child will pick up on your nervous energy and so, being a calming influence on their first day back can go a long way towards making them less worried too. Try not to pass on your own stress to your kids. Prepare as much as you can the night before and make the mornings a slick and smooth process instead of it being a mad rush to get them into school on time.
If your child is expressing any emotions, make sure that you take a moment to truly listen to what they are saying. Most of the time you will be able to talk through a worrying situation with them and change their mindset with a bit of friendly guidance, or come up with a plan for them to build some confidence and strategise when they do go in to school. If they are nervous about friendship problems, try and get in touch with other parents and arrange play dates with new children so that your child doesn’t feel alone. If it’s homework stress, take time to work through it together. And don’t be afraid of seeking advice from other parents or teachers if you need it!
Children feel safe when things are familiar. If, like most children, your child is a creature of habit and gets stressed about being in a new routine, take a few days to start waking up earlier, getting changed into uniform and even driving to school so that they can get into the swing of things before their first day. If it becomes a huge issue, again don’t be afraid of getting in touch with your school – you may be able to go for a walk around the school with your child before it actually opens so that it won’t all be brand new when they go in for real. It’s a good idea to try and get into a good sleep routine a few weeks before school too. Get to bed early and set the alarm to get up so that it’s not a shock to the system when they do go back.
If your child is reluctant to let go of your hand and step away from you in the mornings, then it can be hard to get them to go into school at all. Sometimes, arranging a hand over can be beneficial, where a buddy meets them at the playground and distracts them away from you as a parent. A teacher would work just as well, if that’s what they respond to better. Once they build up some confidence it should become easier and easier to let them go and eventually they may even be excited about going into school and meeting their friends to play!
Remember, most of the time, school anxiety is just a passing phase which should go away on its own. If it does become persistent, you’re never alone and school should always be more than happy to help you come up with a plan in order to get your child out of their head and more excited about coming in every morning.
If this still doesn’t help, talking therapies or CBT could be a helpful option, and often a few sessions will be enough to shake away any worries.
Let us know what you do to help your children’s anxieties in the comments below!