The transition back to a new school year
There could be a mix of emotions tied up with the start of a new school year; excitement, dread, worry, relief… As the new school year approaches, there are some things you could do to prepare your child.
Your child will have visited their new classroom and met their new teacher. If they are beginning to feel anxious about the start of term, could you chat to them about what they remember about their new room/teacher? What is different from last year? What things about school will stay the same? This might help to reduce overwhelm in the new transition and remind them of the experience and knowledge they already have of the setting.
What do they need for the new school year? Is it time to buy some new stationary or a pencil case? Perhaps this could be tied in to a fun day out – could you visit the park on the way home? Or go for a drink out? Could they try on their new uniform ahead of time? Planning for all of these things not only ensures that you are organised ahead of the start of term (reducing the stress nearer the end of the holidays) but also gives your child a taste of what is to come.
Has your child seen their friends over the summer? Could you arrange a play date ahead of the term starting? Reconnecting with friends could help your child to transition back into the school environment and not feel so alone with the change. You could consider arranging travelling to school with the friend/friends so that they can go into their new class together.
How about having a countdown timetable to the start of term? This could include the first week and weekend back. Having a visual record of what to expect, with some nice events outside of school on the first week/weekend could help your child to adjust to the possible daunt of returning to a structured timetable. They could also be offered the opportunity to choose an activity in the lead up to the return as well as something nice to do on the first weekend back might help them to have some control over the coming weeks.
Giving your child an opportunity to talk about their return to school is hugely valuable. Instead of asking questions such as ‘did you have a nice day?’ or ‘was it fun?’, try asking if your child would like to talk about their day, or perhaps asking if they can remember something positive about their day and whether there was anything they might like to be better tomorrow. This gives an option for your child to not have had a good time and to talk to someone about it. However your child presents, it is important to be open to the range of feelings they might be experiencing and making time to be there for them as and when these feelings shift and change.