You might have been the most confident toddler or child when it came to going back to school, suffering from no nerves. You might also have been very shy and not understood these nervous feelings making you feel more vulnerable, worried and scared. We’ve had the opportunity to not only spend a summer with our children but spend, on and off, over a year very close to them. This means that our children are now a lot more used to us being around and constantly with them and if they aren’t super excited to be going back to school, that might mean they’ll be experiencing some nerves they haven’t had before.
These moments are crucial in the way we manage before, during and after to ensure our children are truly happy and aren’t sitting on nerves they don’t need to be. We know that it’s not that scary, we trust the teachers and staff our children will be spending time with, they’ll want to be with their friends when they get there (or they’ll be making some for the first time!) and the education they receive by going is going to set them up for the best future possible. So what can we as parents do to make sure going back to school is easy and there are no nerves?
Get talking about feelings
In advance to the moment they are heading to school, openly talking about feelings can make a huge difference. You know your little one best, but you’ll also know that they might not be speaking about how they truly feel. Encouraging them by talking about your own experiences, that maybe you were nervous but it was worth it or about a friends experience that they were nervous and it’s okay, can start to get them thinking about why they feel this way. From here it could be as simple as reassuring them that you’ll be there on time when the bell rings to pick them up which could make all the difference. Sometimes you’ll need a little more reassurance than this - so keep reading!
Building the school routine early
One of the biggest changes is the routine from summer to back to school. No more leisurely breakfasts and choosing obscure outfits. This difference can have an impact that appears ‘stressful’. When these summer mornings are deemed relaxed to have a change where these things don’t happen and it’s different can create an unwanted feeling within the house that culminates as nerves later on. Gradually introducing the timings and elements of the school morning routine lessens this sudden change and reduces pressure. It can start out with getting up at the right time, followed by getting out the door for other activities at the same time as needing to go to school a few days later and so on. This then doesn’t become different when it’s time to return to school making one less change to have to think about for them.
Arrange what they’re coming home to
Just like us, after a day at work, all we want to do is have somewhere pleasant to come back to, relax and reflect on the day. This is an important part of reducing nerves around being away from home and going back to school. If your little one is voicing concerns about being at school, get them involved in making a special place for them to come back to. A safe space that they can invite who they want into, but it’s also regarded as their very own space that will always be there. This also provides the perfect opportunity for bonding with your little one over the design and installation of this little area, where you can keep talking about how they feel and how confident they will be.
We love the Wigiwama Teepees for this. It creates an enclosed, comfortable area in any home and becomes a place of joy instantly. We also love the idea of using beanbags and ottomans to create reflection corners and places to relax within the home that can belong to just them.
Give them a special item to take with them
Some schools can be strict on what children can take with them to avoid any unfairness in class. By being able to take an item with them it can really help reduce nerves. We recently wrote an article about what transition objects are and how they help build independence which you can read about in more depth here. By encouraging your little one to take something with them, they feel more connected to you and home because they have a physical part of it. If your school is strict on taking items in, the Lion Backpack is the perfect compromise. The cheeky face and material have all the comforts they need, but it’s in a format that they are allowed to take with them!
Talk about all the things they’ll get out of it
They might be nervous because they don’t know what to expect or why they have to leave you. Talking to them optimistically about all the things that will happen as a result of going to school will transfer your enthusiasm for their future as excitement to them. Things like how this is the beginning of their education to be whatever they want to be when they grow up, to how many friends they’ll make and how much fun it will be. To make this more tangible to them, you could talk about how these friendships can result in activities like sleepovers in the future and all the activities this involves too! (We love the Wigiwama Canopies as a show of commitment to this idea to show these things will happen!)
Nerves aren’t fun. Back to school and the first day at school nerves are some of the hardest. We hope our ideas here help you put in place the necessary things your little one needs to reduce their nerves or stop them from even occurring.