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Helping your child with their worries about going back to primary school

It’s natural for children – and parents – to feel nervous about going back to school after the holidays. That’s why we’ve pulled together information, advice and tips to tackle any worries about going back to primary school.

In this short video, GP and mum Dr Punam Krishan has some great advice to help you get into some good habits, including how to get organised, eating well, fitting in exercise and how to chill out.

My child is worried and asking lots of questions – what if I don’t know the answers?

If your child is asking questions, that’s great – after all, talking is a really good way for them to share how they feel. It’s okay if you don’t have all the answers, the most important thing is that you’re there for them when they need someone to talk to.

If your child does have questions you can’t answer, why not make a list of them together so that you can ask the school? Even just writing down their worries might help you both feel less anxious.

Can my child’s primary school help with their worries?

Absolutely. You can ask questions, get information and discuss you and your child’s worries with the school.  It’s a good idea to look out for the information the school will be sending first, as that will help answer lots of your questions. Why not check your child’s school website and social channels for extra reassurance too?

Can my child’s school help with difficult family circumstances?

Some families may be dealing with bereavement or changes, such as job losses caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Schools and local authorities will be putting in place steps to offer support. If you feel that your child needs additional support or if you have concerns about your children’s health and wellbeing, it’s important to let the school know as early as possible so they can work with you to put any support in place which may help.

How can I make the idea of going back to school positive?

If your child is feeling nervous about going back to school, it might help to reassure them if you talk about all the things they love at school. This can help to shift the focus off their anxieties or worries. For example, why not remind them how fun it’s going to be to catch up with their friends at breaks and lunchtimes? Or maybe they’re starting something new, like a new sport or activity, which you can talk about? 

How can I settle their first day worries?

Before your child can get used to the routine of being back at school they’ll have to get past their first day nerves. Remind your child that everyone is likely to be feeling a bit nervous and that it’s okay to feel that way. Keep it positive and focus on talking about the things they are looking forward to when they start. 

Is there anything I can do to help them settle back into the school routine?

Child and mum packing school bag

Child and mum packing school bag

Getting your child involved in getting all the things they need ready for their first day back can help them adjust to the idea of school again, to make it feel less daunting. They could help get their uniform and stationery together, and help you to plan getting back into a routine, to give them some structure.

What if my child feels overwhelmed at the idea of schoolwork or homework?

Reassure your child that their primary school will be doing everything they can to help them. And let them know that if they have any worries about their school work or homework, they can always talk to you and to their teacher about it

My child’s behaviour has really changed – what can I do?

Dealing with changes can be difficult for anyone, especially children. While they’re dealing with big changes, it’s not unusual for them to do things they might have done when they were younger – such as wetting the bed or waking in the night. This will hopefully pass as they get used to being back at school. Every child reacts differently but no matter how they respond, simply reassure them that they’ll be safe, and that you’re always there for them.

For more tips from parents, visit our hub on dealing with difficult behaviour

What if I'm worried about my child’s mental health?

Photo of boy hugging his dad

Photo of boy hugging his dad

If you’re worried about your child’s mental wellbeing speak to your GP or your child’s school. We have some articles on the things you can do to support your child’s mental health here.

The online Solihull course contains information about your child’s development and support for forming positive relationships. You can access the course for free using the access code ‘tartan’.

What to do if I’m feeling anxious about it all too?

After everything that’s happened, it’s no wonder you might feel worried as a parent. To help yourself feel less anxious, it’s important to take some time for yourself – even if it’s just a few minutes in a quiet, relaxing spot to get a little breathing space. Our page on looking after your mental health has more advice that can help.

Is there any other support I can get?

Chatting to other parents from your child’s school about how you feel can be a way to open everyone’s eyes to similar anxieties and concerns. Never feel that you have to worry alone, as there’s always support you can reach out to. Our page on mental health advice for parents has more information.

Last updated: 21 Apr, 2022