Children across the Wales will once again be getting used to their school routines after a well-earned summer break.
Many children will be over the moon to return to their classrooms, friends, and studies, but it’s worth remembering that some may feel uneasy about returning to school too.
Some young people may dread returning because it puts them back near bullies, while others may be worried about starting a new academic year and how challenging their studies will be.
If you are a parent, carer, or close family member, talk to children about school, even if nothing seems wrong. And if a child seems anxious or worried about returning to school, there are lots of ways to help them.
- Let them know that it is okay if they don’t feel comfortable at first. The first few days may seem unusual and that is why it’s important to remind them that it can take time to readjust to the school environment after a break.
- Reassure them that they have support, and suggest they write a list of things they like about school, followed by a list of things that concern them. Talk them over, and discuss ways they can cope with each concern. Writing down worries can be a positive first step, as it helps to visualise problems and gives parents valuable insight as well.
- Ask them about their day but try not to push them too hard – sometimes we just don’t feel like talking and that could be for a variety of reasons but be patient as they may want to talk eventually. By having frequent, open, and honest informal conversations even when nothing seems to be wrong, you can offer them reassurance and a safe place to turn if they’re worried.
- Always remind them that they can talk to a trusted family member or teacher about their concerns as well as you, or perhaps they want to speak to a trained impartial professional.
They can do that for free and confidentially using NSPCC’s Childline counselling service and speak to one of their counsellors at any time of day or night. It might be useful to explore the Childline website together too, as there are lots of useful activities and tools which can help their mood or offer them advice.
They could use the Art Box area to draw a picture about how they feel and what they want to change, read our tips about making friends, or use the Mood Journal to let out their feelings and write about how school went that day.
If they don’t feel ready to speak to their parent or a trusted adult in school, there are moderated message boards on the Childline website where they can speak to other young people and find out how other children have dealt with similar worries.
Sometimes, just finding out they are not the only ones who feel a certain way can be a massive help. Many children and young people who have used the service have said our message boards are a great place to seek peer support in a safe and moderated way.
- Lastly, help calm their nerves and see they are prepared for school by making sure they’re in bed at a reasonable time – without mobiles, tablets, or any devices which might stop them sleeping – and have their uniform and equipment ready the night before to avoid extra anxiety before school.
As we know, sometimes things don’t go the way we planned and the same can happen with a new school year . By using some of this advice children may feel better prepared for their next academic year and know what to do if they are struggling.