Supporting Your Children's Return to School or Nursery After the Holidays
The end of summer brings with it a mix of emotions for both parents and children. Many of us have spent the past few weeks going with the flow but as these open ended days with no timescales give way to the structured routines of school and nursery, parents play a crucial role in ensuring a seamless transition for their children. Here are some valuable tips to help parents support their children's return to school after the summer holidays....
Start re-introducing a routine a few days beforehand:
A sudden shift from holiday mode to school routine can be challenging for children. To help them ease into the transition, start reintroducing regular routines a few days before school begins. Gradually adjust their bedtime and wake up times, perhaps by starting the bedtime routine 10-15 minutes earlier each day and get meal schedules back on track in line with their school timetable. This will help minimise the shock of early mornings and more structured days.
Discuss the upcoming return to school in a positive light. Talk about the exciting aspects of school, like reuniting with friends, learning new things, perhaps having a new teacher and participating in activities they enjoy or clubs they might be a part of. If they are old enough, encourage your child to share their thoughts and feelings about school, allowing them to express any concerns they might have so you can address these together.
Involve your children in the preparation process. If they need some new school supplies, let them pick out some items they're excited about online or in the shops, whether it's a colourful notebook, a cool backpack, or fun stationery. This involvement can create a sense of excitement and ownership for the new school year.
If you have girls, something token that won’t break the bank (but hopefully give them tonnes of confidence) is this range of hair accessories from Rockahula Kids. We love this little ‘I love school’ clip set and they also offer a full set of school uniform compliant hair bands, clips and ties in three different colours (Navy, red or green). These come in a sweet little satchel box to store them in and make a lovely back to school treat.
Buy uniform, shoes and outerwear online
Rushing and stressing around the shops in the days leading up to starting school or nursery can often lead to feelings of stress and negativity, which in turn can rub off on your children. It’s so difficult as parents to juggle it all, so don’t beat yourself up if you haven’t got everything 100% finalised, but harness the joys of online shopping and get uniform and other clothes ordered and sent to you to avoid the dreaded trip to the shops.
One of our favourite brands Toastie has incredible quality rainwear, consistently coming out on top in independent reviews and we can see why. We road tested the dungaree and jacket combo on our 13 month old daughter in the lead up to her going to nursery. When crawling and falling over a fair bit you need something super durable and this really hit the mark. It was not only soft and comfortable for her to wear but also brilliantly waterproof (unlike some which absorb water, eventually leading to soggy sad children!). The designs are bright and fun - and generous sizing with soft, adjustable straps mean they will last a good amount of growing time (and such good quality they will definitely last the course as hand-me-downs).
For shoes, this shoe size gauge from Clarks can be ordered for just £10 and will serve you throughout their lives, so you’ll never need to go to a shoe shop again if you don’t want to! Remember to check out apps like Vinted for second hand school uniforms, or your schools PTA may have a second hand uniform sale.
Create a Family Calendar:
Visual aids like calendars can help kids understand an upcoming schedule and can ease anxiety about who is going to be where in the family. I have a school age daughter who is always asking about her baby sister and where she is going to be and what she's up to - children who have siblings that are not yet in school can sometimes feel a slight sense of injustice! If you create a family calendar that outlines school days, extracurricular activities, and any special events as well as displaying what their siblings are up to when they are at school, plus what parents are doing, can help them mentally prepare for what's ahead and feel more organised.
Review and Reflect:
Spend some time with your children reviewing their accomplishments from the previous year. Highlight their growth and achievements, boosting their confidence and reminding them that they're capable of handling new challenges. This is also a great time to talk about all the fun things they have done over the holidays and any new experiences they have had, so it's fresh in their mind and they can feel excited about telling others when they get to school.
Establish Homework Routines:
If your children didn't have homework over the holidays, gradually reintroduce a homework routine before school starts. This will help them transition from leisurely days to more focused study time. Make the initial bits of homework fun if you can, perhaps set them a challenge of writing down and drawing the fun things they have been up to so it links with and enforces the idea above about self reflection.
Keep the lines of communication open. Encourage your children to share their worries and excitement about returning to school. Address any concerns they may have and offer reassurance and guidance.
Plan Healthy Meals and get into the habit of drinking lots of water:
During the holidays, eating habits can become more relaxed. As school resumes, prioritise balanced meals and nutritious snacks. Discuss meal plans with your children and involve them in meal preparation to encourage healthier choices. If your children are anything like mine, they often forget to drink enough water at school.
Consider buying a new, colourful water bottle in the lead up to the return to school or nursery and get them in
the habit of taking it with them everywhere and drinking regularly. We are a big fan of the range of BPA free bottles from Ion8. These come in a variety of sizes from 280ml - 1l which means they are suitable for your little ones at nursery through to your bigger kids. The 600ml slim
bottles fit perfectly into the side pouch of most rucksacks so are ideal for travel too. We also tried out one of the insulated bottles - these were great for warm liquids so if your older childr
en want to enjoy a tea or some soup for lunch they offer this versatility. They are totally leakproof so a huge win! For 10% off sitewide, use the code BLOSS10 at checkout.
Bloss Expert Joanna Lenz has some fantastic tips in this article about creating a healthy lunchbox for your children, which foods to include and which snacks to avoid due to hidden sugar content. If you’re in the business for a new packed lunch bag, Ion8 also have some fantastic insulated bags in their range, which are padded, fully lined, wipeable and food safe - keeping food fresh for up to 6 hours.
Celebrate Small Wins:
Celebrate the little victories during the first few weeks back at school. Acknowledge their efforts, whether it's completing projects, participating in class discussions, or making new friends. These small achievements can really boost their morale and motivation.
If your child is feeling overwhelmed or anxious, Bloss Expert, Senior Clinical Psychologist Dr Claire Conlon, in her article around managing a successful school return suggests: ‘Some children love holding onto an object for the day that reminds them of their parents; so, a hair bobbin around the wrist or a little love heart drawn on their hand or a little ‘I love you’ note or picture in their pencil case. All of these helps to remind them again that they will be reunited with their parent/caregiver after the day.’
The Final Day of the Holidays
Bloss Expert Rebecca Ashton suggests “On the last day of the school holidays why not have what I call a ‘blow out day’. A fun filled day with their favourite activities to take their mind off school and give them amazing last memories of the summer. Perhaps you could even do a ‘yes day’. This usually exhausts them too, helping them fall asleep quickly!’
Transitioning back to school after the holidays might seem daunting, but with some planning and consideration, you can make it a smoother process for your children. By gradually reintroducing routines, involving them in preparations, and fostering open communication, you'll help them approach the new school year with confidence and positivity. Remember, your support and encouragement play a vital role in helping your children navigate this transition successfully.
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