Our Parents Guide to Back to School 2023
Just like that, the long summer holidays are almost over and parents everywhere are hoping that their child’s transition from lazy summer days to the term time routine goes as smoothly as possible. But ensuring a seamless transition requires preparation; from re-establishing routines to addressing potential anxieties. The following guide will help pave the way for an enjoyable return to school, and set the tone for a happy year of growth and learning for your child…
1. Talk about it
Trying not to think about the return to school until the day before it happens might be one way of enjoying every last minute of the holidays, but for some this can actually make the return to school more difficult. Lots of children feel worried or nervous about going back to school, so encourage open conversations, check in on their feelings and remind them that you’re there to support them every step of the way. You can help by telling them that it’s normal to feel worried, and that lots of other children feel the same, and reassure them that these feelings will likely go away once they get used to being back at school. It’s okay to be scared and brave at the same time.
2. Re-establish a Bedtime Routine
Good sleep is the cornerstone of a successful school day. But after weeks of late bedtimes and lie-ins, convincing your child to start going to bed at a reasonable hour might feel impossible. Making their bedrooms and bedtime routine as calm and relaxing as possible will help. Dim the lights, put away the screens, read a story together, encourage them to read, play relaxing music. Creating a tranquil sleep environment can work wonders in helping them fall asleep faster and wake up well-rested.
Consistent bedtime and wake-up times really help. Reintroducing an earlier bedtime and wake-up time two weeks before the first day of school is ideal, but a week beforehand is still helpful to start getting your child back into the habit.
3. Reduce Screen Time
Children often spend more time playing computer games, on their phones, or watching TV over the holidays as they have more free time, so it’s a good idea to gradually reduce their screen time during the last week or so of the holidays. Make sure all screens are off at least an hour before bedtime as this will help them to wind down and get to sleep more easily.
4. The Tired Transition Phase
The first week or two back at school takes some getting used to. The transition requires a lot of mental and physical energy; it’s exciting, it can be worrying, and there is a lot of new information to take in. So if your child seems a bit more tired than usual, it’s entirely normal, and only temporary. Sticking to a bedtime routine that means they get a good amount of sleep each night will really help.
5. The Art of Unloading
At the end of the day, you may be itching to know every detail of what your child has been up to, but remember: less is more. Instead of firing a barrage of questions the moment they step through the door, give them some time to unwind. Give them a snack, let them relax and let them share their stories at their own pace, don’t pressure them.
6. Fuelling for Success
If you send your child to school with a lunchbox, keep in mind that a well-fed child is a focused child. Try to give them brain-boosting foods such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins. Keeping well hydrated is also important – make sure they have a water bottle that they can refill throughout the day. Healthy eating translates to a happy and energetic day at school.
7. Get Organised
Check you have everything for your child’s uniform (their school will provide a list), not forgetting the PE / gym kit, and check that everything still fits. They may have had a growth spurt over the summer. Don’t forget to label everything too! Make sure they have all the stationery they need – books, pencils, ruler, rubber, etc.
8. Get Them Involved
If they are old enough, let your child take charge of checking they have everything they need. Empowering them in this way helps them to take responsibility, and being proactive could also help them to feel more positive about returning to school if they are not looking forward to it. Getting organised ahead of time will help your child get into the right mind-set and also make the first morning back far less stressful.
9. Catch up with School Friends
If your child hasn’t seen much of their classmates over the summer break, it may be helpful to arrange playdates or even video calls with them before the new school term begins. Rekindling their school friendships before the first day back will help make your child more excited about seeing their friends at school and alleviate any social anxieties they may have.
10. Be positive
It can be a worrying time for parents, especially for those who have children starting school for the first time, but your child is likely to be anxious if they know that you are too. Talking about the fun they are going to have will help them see the new school year as something to look forward to. As schools reopen, there will undoubtedly be a period of readjustment for your child, and you, but by keeping communication open and routines set, the transition will be easier.