How to emotionally prepare your children for the routine of school

After a summer off-timetable, the thought of going back to school might be daunting.

Just as we advocate for good wellbeing in adults, the same goes for children – even if they seem ‘too young’ to be experiencing anything like anxiety.

The last year has been unsettling and anything but the norm, so going back into old routines might feel strange.

Even for children feeling optimistic about the new year, it’s an opportunity to check in.

Parent coach Natalia Baker, working with children’s play company Little Imagineers, tells us this time of year ‘is a great chance for renewal and to refresh our approaches to parenting’.

She tells Metro.co.uk: ‘We see the step change as our children jump up a year, and it is a good time to remind ourselves of the developmental stages our children are going through. 

‘The same parenting approaches that worked for younger children may be starting to become tired and less effective, and so the growth our children go through needs mirroring in our growth in parenting skills.’

These are her top tips for helping children transition emotionally into the new school year.

Listen without judgement

In wanting the best for your child, it can be easy to listen and quickly form an opinion on what they’re saying.

Natalia says it’s important to ‘give your children the space to experience what they are feeling without judgement.

‘Listen carefully to their comments from the day and extract their feelings, not just the facts.’

If you’re struggling to get them to share how their days are going, she suggests describing your own first to encourage them to reciprocate.

Give them more responsibility

Allow space for subtle change in the role your child takes in the home.

‘Going up a year at school is a good opportunity to encourage more responsibility,’ she suggests.

‘Let your child contribute to a balanced lifestyle by inviting suggestions for including physical play and preparing nutritious meals in your weekly routine.’

Talk about emotional intelligence

Mental health is still a touch taboo, even if we have made vast improvements in how it’s spoken about.

It’s not too early to instill emotional intelligence in children going back to school.

Natalia says: ‘Remember that emotional intelligence leads to school performance, not the other way around.

‘Ask your child what they feel they need support with and demonstrate healthy ways of coping with your own worries and frustrations.’

Make time for play

School might feel like a drag after a summer of fun, so try to integrate that element of play into home time.

‘Schedule time in for parent-led play to let your kids know that going back to school doesn’t mean the fun stops,’ Natalie suggests.

‘Connecting through play is essential to nurturing your relationship, letting off steam and regulating emotions.’

Get into nature

Escape always being indoors with screens outside of class time, Natalia says.

‘Make time for being in nature in the coming weeks. Exploring and playing outdoors is strongly linked to positive mental and physical wellbeing.

‘Let’s keep up the huge growing interest in wildlife and local nature reserves that started in lockdown.’

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