Back To School: Dealing With The September Dread

Is your child anxious?

No one enjoys the end of a holiday, but a new study has revealed that 50% of children are now “dreading” going back to school in September.

The research, conducted by Explore Learning, showed that 56% of the children questioned would struggle to get back into their routine and 50% were worried about the early mornings.

The Huffington Post UK spoke to psychologist Amanda Gummer at Fundamentally Children about the best way for parents to deal with back to school ‘dread’.

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Is This Real Dread Or Would They Rather Just Be On Holiday?

The first thing parents need to establish is whether this is real dread, which is causing anxiety in their child, or whether your child would just rather still be on holiday: eating ice cream and having no homework. Because, wouldn’t we all prefer that?

Gummer says: “We don’t want parents to jump on the bandwagon of anxiety if that isn’t really the case. It can be quite a fleeting statement for a child to say they are ‘dreading’ something.

“Talk to your child and find out why they are feeling that way.”

Are They Apprehensive About Something In Particular?

“You need to pinpoint exactly what it is about school, because it is rarely the building or the teacher per se,” Gummer said. “It will be something about that scenario - perhaps the lunches, or the classroom, or the work.”

“Objectively this detail can be quite a small thing, but it will build up over the six weeks that they are away from school.”

In this case, Gummer suggests that parents focus on getting to the heart of the matter and working out exactly what is causing it, so you can open up a dialogue with your child and work out a coping strategy.

Now We Know Why They Are Anxious, How Can We Help Before School Starts?

The best way to help in this scenario is to be hands on and proactive in the weeks leading up to the start of term.

Gummer says: “Focus on the positive parts of what they like about school, but be careful not to undermine their anxieties in doing so.”

  • If your child is anxious about making new friends, then get some of their new classmates over to your house before they go back to school.

  • If they are worried about school lunches then make them together, let them pick out a lunch box or their menu for the week.

  • If they are worried about having forgotten everything they learned in the previous year, then get out their old work books and go through some exercises together. Chances are it will all come back quickly anyway.

What Do We Do On The First Day Of School?

Now that you understand exactly what it is that your child is apprehensive about, you will be able to address it during the first days back.

Make sure you have that open dialogue so you can ask them directly about how they are feeling in that first week.

What If They Are Just Worried In General?

Gummer says: “Even if your child doesn’t have the ‘dread’ about a particular part of school, that transition period can be difficult so do something nice and celebrate the milestones together.”

And make sure they know that you are there to listen to them.