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Preparing young people for the return to school
Returning to school after the school holidays can induce feelings of uncertainty or anxiety. How can you encourage the young people in your life to feel more confident returning to school and help them feel safe to talk about how they are feeling?
It is important to remember that every young person will have had different experiences during the school holidays. Some may feel ready to go back to school and for a change in environment, whilst other’s might be feeling apprehensive at the thought of returning due feeling more secure at home and overwhelmed thinking about the changes a new school year will bring.
As a parent or carer your role during the holidays may have accelerated and you might have had extra time to talk and connect with your young person being around them more at home. There are ways to keep connected as we approach the first term of the school year, to check in with them and to talk about their mental health.
Some tips to support you when preparing the young people in your life for the return to school:
Talk and listen to how they are feeling. Normalise and validate what they are feeling. There is no right or wrong way to feel about the change and transition, and reminding them that they have the right to feel the way they do can encourage them to continue expressing their feelings in the future.
Increase feelings of security by preparing them for the return to school as much as possible. This might involve looking at the school website, talking to the school, walking past the school (if possible) or getting in touch with schoolmates to have a conversation about how they’re feeling. Provide as much information as possible about what their new routine might look like if it has changed from last term.
Discuss the uncertainty If they are entering a new setting or format from last term, there may be uncertainty around what to expect which can lead to feelings of anxiety. Simply just discussing what these uncertainties are can help to ease the overwhelming feeling of the unknown, with reminders that you will be there to help them overcome any challenges should they present.
Introduce a routine in the days leading up to returning to school. Many young people will have found their lifestyle changed in the holidays, perhaps with later bed times and later starts. Beginning to get back into the routine of a school day ahead of the start of term can help lessen the stark contrast that may occur for school mornings. It’s also important to look at their overall health and wellbeing which can affect general mental health. Are they eating well and getting enough exercise?
Start a conversation about mental health if you’re concerned about your young person. It can be difficult to know exactly how to begin a conversation with someone about how they are feeling. Our conversation guide has helpful pointers on how to do this.
Look after yourself the school holidays can be a stressful time for parents and carers trying to juggle multiple responsibilities. Take time for yourself to reflect on changes that may be happening in the next few weeks and connect with other parents and carers for peer support.
Bloom Resources to support you
For support in having these conversations with young people, please visit the Bloom Resource Library and download our guide ‘Guide for having discussions with other parents and carers’.
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