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How to help your kids return to school

As September looms, that Back to School feeling starts creeping in… but this year, after many children have been out of schools for months, emotions around returning to school might be more intense. For kids who haven’t seen the inside of a classroom since March, going back to regimented days with timetables, lunch hours and homework could be daunting. Add to that the additional worry of being around lots of people again, starting in a new class or year group and getting to grips with social distancing, and lots of children could find their mental health suffering. 


With this in mind, we’ve gathered together some thoughts and advice for helping your children make the transition from home learning back into the classroom. 


Talk it out

The first step in tackling any mental health worries is to try talking about it. Young children are usually open and honest with their feelings so you may find it easy to work out what specific things they’re worrying about and help them figure out a solution. But if you have older kids and especially teenagers, they might be less willing to vocalise their fears. Rather than confronting them with direct questions, try talking about the situation in general – the fact that a return to school is happening, that it might be scary at first, that lots of children will be nervous and that it’s ok to feel these things. 


Start the routine early

One of the biggest difficulties children will face after being at home for so long is getting used to the routine that comes with going to school. They’ll need to get up earlier, things will be more rushed, they won’t be able to take breaks whenever they want and they’ll have to respect a stricter timetable. Try introducing some of these things in the run-up to their first day back – a week of waking gradually earlier using an alarm, planned activities that get you up and out of the house in the morning, quick and easy breakfasts, etc. A responsibility like walking the dog twice a day at the same time might also help them get used to doing things at set times again. 


Plan for the future

For many kids, going back to the confines of school after such a long time enjoying more ‘freedom’ will be hard work. But looking forward and planning things for the future could help them focus on the reward for their return to school – the holidays! Turn your attention to October Half Term and plan some fun things to do. Write them out on the calendar so you can visualise the dates, and talk about them often. Not only will these plans help motivate your children to get back to school and move forward through the year, but they’ll also help them reconnect with the ebb and flow of the year.


Keep on reassuring

One of the best things you can do to help support your children this September is reassure them regularly that things will be ok. Do this without dismissing their feelings – so use phrases like “it’s natural to be nervous – I’m nervous too!” while reminding them that anything they’re worried about can be discussed and resolved. It also helps to talk about the measures their school will have in place to keep them safe, like extra hand washing and track and trace. 

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