It is only a couple of weeks now until children will start going back to school. You may be thankful for a break yourself now, or you may miss their company all day but one thing is certain for some children and parents, they will be full of anxiety and trepidation about their return. Your child is moving up a year, and for a lot, will be moving to another school.
It is a normal thing for a lot of children and parents to be understandably scared about this big change. Read about the main struggles children and parents can face, why anxiety builds up around the new school year and what you can do to help your child and yourself with post summer-holiday nerves.
The struggles of the new school year for children
If your child or children are moving from Year 6 up to secondary school and into Year 7, or even moving from year to the next in their current school, there may be a lot playing on their mind about what they will experience, if they will make friends, if the work will be too challenging for them or if they will fit in. There are multiple reasons children may find the transition hard, especially if they are going to a school which little or none of their friends from their previous school will attend.
According to Young Minds, a charity that supports children’s mental health, children can become anxious about returning to school for the following reasons:
- Feeling under pressure to get high grades
- Not bonding and getting on with school staff and teachers
- Felling pressured to lean in a way that they may not be used to or like
- Having additional needs such as ADHD or dyslexia that has not been recognised
- Experienced bullying
- Feeling like they are under achieving compared to others
- Felling as if the work is too difficult
- Problems with concentrating
As you can see there many reasons why children may be nervous to start a new school year. All of these feelings are normal and the important thing is how these feelings are discussed and what can be done to help your child overcome fears or manage their feelings.
What can be done to support your child?
There are many ways to support your child at this potentially difficult time. The more you can work with your child with their feelings, the easier the transition between school years and the end of summer is.
Young Minds suggest the following to support your child in their school transitioning:
- Praise and recognise achievements – it may seem like a simple strategy but it is an affective one. Positive reinforcement for the smallest achievement can go a long way.
- Stay positive and calm – if your child is stressed and anxious about going to school then shouting and getting angry will only makes things worst. Be understanding and do what you can to help.
- Get involved with their learning – usually students are given a bit of work before they start a new year. If you have the time outside of your busy day, get involved in their learning and help them understand what they are reading and learning.
- Give your strategies time to work – this advice won’t help overnight. Things like this can take time but with persistence and support, you can do great things with your children.
- Get professional help – if you find that some of the steps to support your child are not enough or you feel as if you need your help yourself, you need to look after yourself of course, then there are charities and organisations that can help support you with helping your child.
Though your child or children will be your number one concern when the summer holidays are over and they going back to school, you, your family or your partner may also be feeling anxious and worried about what the new term will bring. You also need to look after yourself, you are your child’s support network and if you don’t look after yourself mentally, it will be very difficult to support your child.
Parent’s worries about children returning to school
According to a study carried out by Zurich Insurers 26% of parents that were asked are less able to support their child’s anxiety now compared to before the pandemic and 16% admit that they don’t feel equipped to help, support and cope with their child’s anxieties. 44% of parents also feel more anxious when they are unable to help with their children’s issues.
These are worrying figures, especially as the cases of poor mental health with children are also increasing. The whole support network needs to work to ensure that yourself and your child can work together to make the back-to-school season as easy as possible.
It has been reported that the parents have a number of stresses about their children going back to school which include:
- Whether or not their child will fit it in
- If their child gets good grades
- If there is child anxious themselves
- If their child makes friends
- If their child gets bullied
- Whether or not their child can keep up with the new work load
- The price of school uniform and equipment
This summer parents have expressed concerns about the rising costs of living and the knock-on effect this has on buying new school uniforms multiple times a year when their child quickly grows out of their clothes.
What can you do to help your anxiety?
Get to know the other parents
Talking with other parents and sharing any anxieties you may have can help ease the load and find ways of working together to reduce stress.
Get to know the teachers
By meeting your children’s teachers you will be able to see that your child will be looked after and will be given the best education. Speak with them and tell them about your child and any difficulties you or your child may be having.
Get into a routine
If you and your child get in a routine together, the transition back to school will gradually become smoother and easier. Talk to your children each morning, say goodbye to each other in a special way and remember each day, your child is going to school to work towards their future.
These are some practical ways that you may be able to reduce your stress about your child going back to school. The stresses that are harder to control will be due to the cost of living and your child growing out of their school clothes quickly.
There are some websites that offer second hand school uniform for schools in the UK. This could help slightly with the cost and saves you from buying new school unform all of the time. You can also get school equipment like pens, pencils, calculators and books in charity shops which are generally always cheaper than high street supermarket or brand.
The back to school time of year can be difficult, but with patience, well thought out routines and plenty of talking and support, you and your child will be able to make this year the easiest one yet.