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

After so long juggling day-to-day life with primary schools closed, you may have mixed emotions about schools reopening, and feeling a bit out of practice when it comes to the school routine. As we look ahead to the new term, it’s not surprising that it might start to feel a bit daunting for your child too. It’s perfectly natural for your child to have lots of questions.

That’s why we’ve pulled together information, advice and tips to tackle any worries about going back to primary school.

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.

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.

Should I prepare my child for any changes?

It’s a good idea to talk to your child about some of the ways that school might be different. For example, explaining the new safety precautions, reassuring your child that these are being put in place to keep everyone as safe as possible. This will help them feel less worried when they go back.

My child is really anxious that it’s still too soon to go back – how can I reassure them?

Talking about safety measures can help reassure your child about any concerns they have. Things like more frequent cleaning, regular hand washing before and after any activity, such as mealtimes, break times and PE, are just some of the measures schools are taking.

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 after all this time away? 

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 wee one that everyone is starting at the same time as them and that it’s okay to be a little nervous. Keep it positive and focus on talking about the things they are looking forward to when they start. It is worth contacting the school to make sure you are aware of any new procedures around drop offs to make sure you can tell your wee one what to expect.

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

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?

Reassure your little one that their primary school will be doing everything they can to help your child feel safe and comfortable. They totally understand this has been a difficult time for all of us, especially for children, so teachers will make sure they help your child feel settled in to support their learning. This might mean that your little one’s school takes a phased approach to reintroducing formal schoolwork, and teachers will be focused on the wellbeing of their children as opposed to just catching up on what they might have missed.

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 am still worried about my child’s mental health?

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. It’s also perfectly natural to feel some sense of relief at the idea of your little one going back to primary school – so don’t feel guilty. After all, you’ve been a teacher and parent all rolled into one trying to juggle everything over the last few months. Breathing a sigh of relief is natural!

To help yourself feel less anxious, it’s important to not forget 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. 

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 – and you’ll no doubt be amazed at how it feels like a weight has been lifted to just talk to another adult outside your household about what’s happening. Never feel like you have to worry alone, as there’s always support you can reach out to.

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Last updated: 19 Oct, 2020