As August nears an end both parents and kids have no choice but to allow the thoughts of school creep in. While returning to school can be an exciting time for most children it can also be a time that triggers anxiety in others.

The first thing to note is that anxiety is a word that describes a feeling and feelings are a completely normal part of everyday life. To help your child overcome their anxiety there is a couple of steps that you can start over the coming week to give them a headstart to transitioning back into school in a better space in their head.

It is always a good idea first to acknowledge that feeling some anxiety is completely normal and to being this down to their level explain how you are also feeling a little anxious about the return to school runs, making lunches, and early mornings whatever it might be. This is an important part in the process as it means you can work through it together and assure them that you will tackle this together.  Instantly your child will feel a little more reassured.

Preparing Emotionally:

  • Start to mention the starting of or return to school over the coming week drop it into conversation so that their feelings have time to run their course don’t leave it till the week before school to mention the return this will not give them enough time to process.
  • Mention all the positives about returning to see some friends they may not have seen over the summer, the prospect of a new teacher how exciting that will be, a new classroom
  • Bring them in on the build up to the return by involving them in purchasing their bits and pieces for school such as pencils, copy books, school bag, pencil case.
  • Using gentle mindfulness techniques such as when they are experiencing negative thoughts about school bring them to a time in school that they enjoyed like their sports day etc whatever it might bring their mind back to that positive experience so that they positive feelings are roused up and overtake the negative feelings.
  • If they are starting School google a picture of their school so they can see it and build up the excitement around the yard etc
  • Start putting them to bed a little earlier a couple of weeks before the return so that they are becoming used to the change in their routine its much easier to cope with change that is drawn out than a sudden change by asking them to go to bed earlier the night before school and they have been allowed to stay up late the whole summer.
  • When putting them to bed if they are still at the stage of a bed time story it can be helpful to read a book that will bring their thoughts to school
  • Here a few suggestions:   Preparing your child Physically:Here is a few tips on getting them ready
  • Here in our clinic we have often run school readiness camps and in it our Occupational Therapist works on the practical and function part of getting children prepared for school.

Preparing your  Child Physically:

Here in the clinic we have often run School readiness camps and our Occupational Therapist Michelle works on the practical and functional part of getting children prepared for School:  Here  is a few tips we would recommend

  • Let them use their lunch box and water bottle during the summer holidays so that they know how close their lids and open and close their lunch box properly
  • Start letting them put on their coat and taking it off to ensure that they understand there won’t be anyone standing around to take their coat off for them.
  • Practice colouring pictures and taking out their pencils and tidying them back up into the school bags- Organisational skills are something that need to be practiced don’t expect them to just know how to do these things the first day they go to school.
  • For older kids get them to start organising their bag so they can see what is in their bag and label their books and copies so that they can see what they have especially a child that struggles with organisational skills.   Colour Coding can also be useful for a child that struggles with organising. Use red for Maths, Green for History etc etc.
  • The biggest gift you can give your child is showing them how to overcome the little anxieties they may feel about starting or returning to school. These are all life building exercises. As much as we don’t want our children to feel anything that may upset them that is not possible as human beings so the earlier we start to show our children how to tackle emotions head on the better they become at learning to cope with trials they will face in the world. When they finally succeed at their first day don’t rush out and buy them a big present just simple praise (well done I knew you could do it) and a hug for overcoming their first day and say to them you see how we were both a little anxious and we overcame it together. Bring them for a little hot chocolate or a trip to the park as a treat as in life no one is waiting with a present everytime you overcome a difficult situation and it’s good to start as you mean to go on with
  • If a child is experiencing serious anxiety around school and you are struggling to get them into school we offer both clinic and school sessions to help overcome quickly and we work collaboratively with schools around these issues.