This Is When The Kids Go Back To School After Summer – And How To Prep Them For It

*Aggressively circles date in diary*
JulPo via Getty Images

We’re just a couple of weeks into the six-week summer holidays, but that hasn’t stopped parents from frantically Googling when the kids will be heading back to school. And with all this rain and the general stress of juggling work and childcare, who can blame them?

While term dates will vary depending on the school and where in the UK you’re based, for lots of pupils in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, the last week of August will mark the final week of the summer holidays.

Here’s what you need to know.

When do the kids go back to school?

For pupils in Scotland, schools will typically resume on Wednesday 16 August or Thursday 17 August – the reason it’s earlier is because they broke up for summer in June.

Students in Northern Ireland are expected to return to school on Friday 1 September.

Meanwhile, in England and Wales, children will officially be heading back to school – or starting a new school – on either Monday 4 September or Tuesday 5 September.

It’s worth noting that private schools can have different term times, so it’s best to check directly with the school when your child will need to head back (if they haven’t notified you already).

If you’re based in England or Wales, you can use’s school tool to find out the exact term time dates in your local area – all you need to do is input your postcode and it’ll take you to the relevant council’s website for more information.

The Scottish Government has a similar tool here and you can find out Northern Ireland’s term dates here.

These tools can also be useful for figuring out when the first half-term falls in October, as they will also vary depending on where you’re based.

How to prepare your child to head back to school

While parents might be desperate for school to start again, children might feel very differently about it.

While some will inevitably be getting bored and want to see friends again, others might have lots of hidden worries – especially children who are starting secondary school, suggests Rachel Melville-Thomas, a child psychotherapist and spokesperson for the Association of Child Psychotherapists (ACP).

She points towards research showing the stress hormone cortisol increases in children moving from pre-school to formal schooling, and that this measure of stress response can stay high for up to six months.

“However, the individual child’s temperament (fearful or outgoing) does play a part in how they handle the move,” she says.

Give them plenty of time to prepare

While you might think it’s a bit early to get them ready for heading back to school (after all, some parents have still got the best part of a month to go), Melville-Thomas recommends allowing lots of preparation time for your little one.

This might involve playing schools at home, practising listening and taking turns, but also listening carefully to what your child is thinking about in terms of what’s coming once the holidays are over.

“Parents, you should try ‘tuning in’ to how your child is feeling right now,” says Melville-Thomas. “The first thing might be just watching and listening and hearing what they’re chatting about to their siblings or to their friends. What’s the mood?”

While your child might explicitly tell you they’re fine – especially if they’re older – their behaviour might suggest otherwise, so it’s important to be alert to this.

Help them reflect on their old class

If you’re struggling to get a handle on how your child feels, you might want to ask questions like: what was the best thing about the class you are leaving? What was the worst? Looking back, who will you miss most as you say goodbye to Year 6?

This can help children to think through their experiences, while helping them take the next step, suggests Melville-Thomas, who adds: “Good partings make for good arrivals.”

How to tell if a child is struggling

Once the new term starts, younger children often show that they are struggling by changes in their behaviour. Signs may include:

  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Bedwetting
  • Saying they have a lot of physical symptoms such as headaches and tummy aches
  • Having more bad dreams
  • Seeming more irritable, tearful or clingy.

“Many young children find the increased separation from parents unbearable and those feelings can go ‘underground’ into bodily functions,” says Melville-Thomas.

She urges parents to remind their little ones that they are ‘thinking about them’ as they go into class, and to usher them towards friendly adults and fellow classmates by name.

In older children and teenagers, signs that they are struggling will present in a different way. Mainly:

  • Low mood and irritability
  • Losing interest in things that they used to do/enjoy.

In this instance, be curious about your child’s feelings and allow them to express any worries they have, listening and sympathising rather than brushing away fears too soon with well-meaning cheeriness, suggests the therapist.

“Most children when they feel properly heard, go on to reclaim a balance in what they feel, and sort things out themselves,” she adds.

The good news is that these symptoms will usually recede as the child settles into their new routine, but if they do carry on, don’t be afraid to speak to their teacher or GP about it.