6 tips for getting the kids back to school

Brendan Street Brendan Street Professional Head, Emotional Wellbeing
Are you and your child looking forward to the first day back at school after lockdown? Whilst some people may be excited or relived, others may be experiencing back to school stress or anxiety. Brendan Street, Professional Head of Emotional Wellbeing at Nuffield Health, shares his top 6 tips for easing the transition.

1. Get back into a routine

Life in lockdown has probably been more fluid than normal term time. Whilst there are benefits to flexibility, in the long term, kids thrive in a routine.

This means getting up at the same time every day, eating regular meals and following structured bedtimes. Encouraging your children back into the term-time schedule a week before school starts will do a lot to ease the transition.

2. Communicate

Talk through the process with your children. Children can find periods of transition stressful. Discuss what to expect and listen to their concerns, but don't rush to try and fix everything at once.

Allow them to vent their worries before reassuring them they can cope. A degree of stress or distress regarding a change of routine is to be expected and not avoided. Instead, work on finding coping strategies such as physical activities or breathing exercises.

3. Healthy eating

Plan and test healthy breakfast recipes to start your child's day off right.

If cooking isn't an option, choose a low sugar cereal and add a banana, strawberries or other fresh fruit with a little honey. For more ideas, these are some recipes that are fun and easy to make in our article Healthy breakfasts to help get the kids back to school.

4. Walk through the practicalities

Consider a practice run of the walk to school and drop off if possible, especially if travel arrangements are changing. Helping children visualise what’s going to happen can make anxieties seem more manageable.

5. It’s the thought that counts

Encourage your child to notice that thoughts - often in the form of an inner voice in their mind - accompany any mood they’re experiencing.

Situations don’t make people anxious or stressed: it’s the way we think about situations that creates the mood. If you can help your child to access the thoughts ‘fuelling’ the mood, you can then support them to problem-solve when feeling worried.

6. Celebrate the milestone

Creating rituals can help cue children for what’s ahead and form positive associations. Over time, these will become treasured moments.

Why not shop for a new pencil case or treat them to a pancake breakfast on the first day? Marking the beginning of a new school year will help children see it as a special occasion.

Key takeaway

Kids take cues from their parents every day. By creating an organised and positive environment with open communication, you'll be setting a great example for your child to help them with this transition.

To empower students in improving their wellbeing, we've established Nuffield Health's School Wellbeing Activity Programme (swap).

We also have challenges and activities available to help keep your kids happy, healthy & active at home by exploring new ways to eat well, move well, sleep well and feel well. Find out more here.

Last updated Wednesday 24 February 2021

First published on Friday 6 September 2019