The One Thing You Need For A Low-Stress Return To School
With a return to school looking likely in the coming weeks, a lot of kiddos are counting the days feeling a mixture of dread, sadness and irritation.
It’s hard to blame them.
They’ve been jostled around with on-again off-again lockdowns for the past 18 months, squashing any sense of routine they’ve managed to cobble together.
So what can we do to soothe our child’s feelings and make returning to school a less stressful experience for us all?
We need a plan.
Prevention is always better than a cure, right?
Before that, we need to understand what to prioritize.
A return to school plan will only work if it’s based on what your child actually wants and needs… (not just what you think they need).
Anytime I want to have a conversation with my kids about feelings, or ‘serious stuff’, I’ll always aim to connect with them first. Play a game they like, do something silly, watch a show with them, play a game, literally ANYTHING they enjoy.
After I’ve connected with them, I know they’ll be more willing to answer my questions.
Return To School Test
Before we begin creating our return to school plan, ask your kids the below questions:
How are you feeling about returning to school? It’s a simple question that can give you an insight into the fears, anxieties or irritations they have. Validate and empathize. Make a note of these as you’ll be referring back to them when you create your return to school plan.
Is there anything we can do to get ready for your first day? You never know what this question will bring up. It could be something as simple as buying a new backpack, or as detailed as agreeing to a pick up location or post-school activity.
What are some of the things you’re looking forward to? Going back to school isn’t all doom and gloom. Try to identify the things your child is looking forward to.
Why do we ask our children to help create their return to school plan?
If they’re part of the process, they’re more likely to buy into it. Their involvement also means the plan will address their actual concerns, not the ones we think they have.
The key here is creating as much certainty as possible. This will dramatically reduce your child’s anxiety levels.
Your Back To School Plan
Creating your own back-to-school plan can be as simple as writing down what you’re going to do:
- In the days leading up to school time – What uniform will they wear? Where will they be dropped off and picked up? Is there something special they’d like for lunch, or a snack?
- The day they return to school – How should we handle drop off? For example, with ‘saying goodbye’ – will you give them a hug, a wave? Will you drop them at the school gate, or at the car? Are you stopping at a cafe on the way for a hot chocolate? Should you tell your boss you have to start work later so you aren’t rushed?
- The following days and weeks – What’s something we can look forward to on Friday? What would make after-school fun… hanging out with friends? Ice cream?
Just seeing it all on paper can reduce anxieties in three key ways:
- It minimizes uncertainty.
- It brings comfort because our children know what’s happening.
- Knowing how it’s all going to unfold helps them feel more in control.
Your Return To School PDF Pack
I’ve created a free PDF pack for parents who want to make the return to school as low-stress and low-anxiety as possible.
You can get your Return To School PDF Pack here.
The pack will help you plan exactly what will happen before, during and after your child’s first day back at school.
You’ll receive the popular ‘Day By Design’ template, PLUS everything you need to prepare your 1-page plan, including:
- Prompts to develop your child’s ‘first day back story’
- ‘Who can help me?’ chart
- Feelings seesaw worksheet
- Feelings pie chart
The more you plan before the big day, the easier it will be for everyone involved!
Ready to walk through everything you need to know to make the return to school as low-stress as possible? Explore why your child might be feeling anxious and what you can do to help in the online workshop Return To School: Your Parenting Playbook. Learn more and register here.