Is Your Child Ready to Go Back to School?


 Going back to school after many months of being stuck at home might not excite every child. It has been a period of uncertainty and transitioning into the new normal might make them anxious. Many schools in India have started reopening with new protocols like 50% attendance & staggered lunch breaks. It’s important for parents and teachers to ensure the physical and mental wellbeing of their children to help with this transition.

The signs of stress & anxiety might not be easy to decode as children don’t always know how to express them. That’s why it becomes our job as a parent & educator to create a comfortable space for having such conversations. But first, let’s get to know what might be causing this.

“Many parents wonder if kids are faking these feelings to get out of going to school, but back-to-school anxiety is a real phenomenon,” says Dr Christopher Min, a pediatric psychologist. Back to school anxiety occurs when nervousness goes into overdrive, causing physical, behavioural or cognitive consequences that can impact a child’s mindset and ability to perform in school. This usually happens with younger children but the Pandemic has increased stress & fear among everyone. It can also cause developmental delays, behavioural, or emotional changes that parents might find difficult to decode.

Children might need help restarting their school life, be comfortable with social interactions again and also adapt to the blended learning methods. Let’s look at some ways we can make this less challenging for them.

How To help with the “Back to School” Transition:

Start small. Plan Together.

Take small and informed steps. Children have had limited social interactions during the pandemic and they might not be ready for extended social interactions at school. You can also talk to other parents and teachers. Do not go overboard with weekend plans to make up for it. Ask your child how their day went and what they would like to do over the weekend. Try to keep some consistency in the activities or environment so they don’t get overwhelmed. Keep it minimal in the beginning and add more events as and when they are ready for it.

Stick to routine

Although the back-to-school transition can be unpredictable and stressful, a basic routine can reduce anxiety. Following the same schedule for day-to-day activities like eating, bath time, screen time and bedtime can make them more flexible towards their new school routine & events. 

Acknowledge their fears and stress

Their fears might not be easy to read. Some might refuse to go to school, some become quiet or complain of stomach ache or headache. Older children might start withdrawing and show aggressive behaviour.

If you are wondering how to help them when they refuse to talk about it, just let them know you understand and would like to work on it together when they are ready. You can also seek professional help if you think it is affecting their wellbeing or your relationship with them.

Reassure Safety

Create a positive atmosphere at home to ensure they always feel like they have a home to come back to. Explain to them how the school & staff is going to take safety measures to keep them safe. Teach them how they can practice being safe in public with masks & social distancing.

Teach Meditation Techniques

You might not always be around when they feel anxious so teach them small hacks to practice at the moment. It can be deep breathing exercises, grounding with five senses or number techniques. Check out some wonderful mental exercises for children here, explained by Dr Modir.

You can work towards building an environment that prepares them for these challenges. In our previous article, we talked about Positive Self Talk & Daily Affirmations for a healthy parent-child relationship. Let us know if you find these techniques useful or would like to share something that has worked in your child.