Does your child suffer with ‘back to school’ worries?

The summer hols seem to go on forever, don’t they? After a long break, you’d think most children would be itching to go back to school, wouldn’t you?

A new school term offers all sorts of interesting opportunities: seeing friends, a variety of activities to keep them occupied, favourite lessons. Some children, though, dread going back – even panic at the prospect. And it’s more common than you think.

There are many reasons for this:

A bad end to the summer term

If your child received a disappointing report showing lower grades, or was bullied or fell out with a friend, children often carry a bag full of negative feelings with them. Once children associate school with feeling unhappy or being a failure, they dig them selves into a hole they can’t get out of by themselves.

Try these ideas:

  • Invite the friend over for pizza to re-establish the friendship. Chances are your child’s friend has forgotten all about the falling out.
  • Explain that last term was last term. This term is a new opportunity. Offer to help your child with the difficult subjects to remove that “I can’t do it’ block.
  • Avoid last minute panic mode by checking whether your child had any summer projects to complete. Support them to complete this, without mentioning your disappointment that they forgot. Instead, use this an an opportunity to set up a homework routine. Rather than impose it, ask them when they’d rather do it: when they get home, or perhaps after dinner. Giving them a choice in this can make a huge difference…
  • Contact the school if you suspect any repeat bullying. Nipping it in the bud early on will avoid bigger problems later.

Feeling inadequate

Children show their emotions, they don’t always tell them… They might not say to you in words that they are worried or scared, but their actions might tell a different story. Stroppy, argumentative behaviour, for instance, can be a sign that they are struggling with something but don’t know how to handle it.

Children who voice their negative feelings about school often say: ‘I hate going’ or ‘ I don’t want to go back’ are often simply scared. But of what? It could be fear of failure. Anxiety about underachieving…

First, it’s important not to blame your child for feeling this way. It might be that this is an opportunity for you to share your school days, especially concerning a subject you struggled with. Empathy works wonders with children… If your child sees that you struggled too, it can make it easier on them. Struggling is a fact of life, after all. It’s how we learn to cope with or face that struggle that counts…

Second, try to establish which subjects or situations your child is most worried about. Go through each subject they’ll be taking. (it’s easy to find information on school websites, for example) Note how they react to each one… And reassure your child that you’ll help them get to grips with homework for that subject. Plus you could contact the teacher once the timetables are published to establish your concerns early.

Resisting routines

School is all about routines: getting up on time, getting to registration, arriving at lessons on time, getting homework and studying completed.

Routines, however, usually go through the window during the summer hols with children having long lie-ins or late bedtimes. Once school starts, chaos can reign unless you get practical. Here are some ideas:

  • Organise equipment. Get prepared before the term starts by making sure your child has all the correct stationery, uniform and sports kit. It’s surprising how fast a child can grow over the summer hols. Their feet especially!
  • Set the alarm every morning during the week before term starts. This will help your child get used to early mornings!
  • Get into a positive routine once school starts. Help your child pack their bag the night before, plus give plenty of praise when your child completes homework set.

Get help from The Lemon Tree

The new term is a fresh start, not just a continuation of last year’s woes. If you do hit a brick wall, and find your child isn’t coping with the basics, call us here at Lemon Tree Tutors in Surrey and Chichester. We can put you in touch with a professional English, Maths or Science tutor to support your son or daughter this term.

At the very least, you are welcome to call us for advice if you feel completely stuck…

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