As the summer holidays come to an end children may be experiencing a range of emotions. They may be feeling excited, nervous or worried at the thought of going back to school and it is important that they feel heard, supported and safe. NHS GP, Dr Tara of @themedicmummy, tells us how we can best support our children during this transition period, particularly when they are starting a new school.
Heading back to school can be a daunting time and supporting children’s mental wellbeing during their return to school is a key priority. There are a few things that you could do to help prepare your children both practically and emotionally for this transition in the lead up to school.
A good way to start may be to talk to your child about returning to school and how they feel about it; what are looking forward to, is there anything they are unsure about? Take the time to listen and give them space to express how they feel and share any worries they have. Validate their feelings and explain that it is natural to feel nervous about returning to school and that it’s ok. If they have particular worries it may be helpful to address these. You can focus on some positives and talk about the things they do enjoy about school and what they are looking forward to. Make a list together of the things they are most excited about.
You can prepare for school together in the days and weeks leading up to school. Make a list of the things they need for school and plan a shopping trip together. Make it a fun day out and let them pick out some of their school supplies such as their pencil case, stationary and lunch box.
Gradually start to reintroduce a routine in the days and weeks leading up to school. This may involve healthy eating and regular meal times to fit around the school day. A good sleep routine with a regular bedtime is also important; gradually make the bedtimes earlier and the morning lie-ins a little shorter to fit the school routine. Encourage them to get some regular exercise too. It may be helpful to practice the morning routine for the school run, including getting dressed, eating breakfast and leaving on time.
4. Reconnect with friends
Your child may be starting school for the first time or returning after a long break. It may be helpful to connect with school friends in the weeks leading up to school. Play dates with children from their new class may help ease some of the worries and they may feel less anxious knowing they will be going back to some familiar faces.
5. Check in
Continue to check in once they’ve started school and spend some time to talk about their day. Everyone is different and children will settle in their own time. They may be more clingy or upset in the first few days and weeks and this is normal. If you have any particular concerns you could arrange to speak to their teacher about this.
All images by @themedicmummy
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