Managing anxiety and stress of going back to school

Managing with the stress and anxiety of returning back to school

By Beth Kerr, Group Director of Wellbeing at Cognita Schools Group.

Top tips for how children and their parents can cope with the transition back into school.

I would say feeling anxious is a completely normal emotion. Feeling a little bit nervous is really important because it prepares us for school. Everyone else is feeling the same way. But there are things we can all do to help each other.

For a student: How can I prepare for Monday?

  • Let's get our routines back. In the run up to starting school, get your bag ready, your uniform ready and gradually move your bed time earlier so you are ready to wake up earlier for school next week.

  • Get in touch with friends again. Make plans for when you see them in person.

  • Don't worry about what you've missed at school. Teachers will guide you through it. Your focus is about settling back into school and getting a good night's sleep.

When you wake up on that first morning just think to yourself everybody is in the same boat. It's going to take time. Be patient. You will be with friends and teachers that care about you, who know you, and have spent a long time planning for this. Just enjoy it.

For parents you can sometimes feel conflicted. On one hand you feel excited and relieved that your fridge doesn't have to get topped up every 30 seconds. But we also know from the YouGov Poll that 41% are feeling a sense of anxiety.

For parents: How can you prepare for Monday?

  • Embrace the way you are feeling, it's normal to feel apprehensive.

  • Go back to things that you can control. Go back to routines. Think about how you can support routines, relationships and rest?

Students taking covid-19 test

Good relationships are the strongest predicter of well-being in all contexts. So how can parents support good relationships to help ease a child's anxiety about going back to school in a covid-19 world?

  • Chat to your children about what school is going to be like.

  • Re-focus your child's attention away from the Covid-19 measures. It's a tiny part of your child's school day and that's how you should approach it.

  • Yes, talk about it. Tell them what to expect. And give them a chance to talk to you and listen.

  • Encourage your child to talk to teachers at school if they are worried about any of the new Covid-19 measures.

Three simple ideas on how children can manage their anxiety going back to school

1) Accept it. Don't think it's a negative thing. Anxiety and stress is a normal response to this sort of situation.

2) Talk about it and share the fact you're nervous with friends and family.

3) Focus your attention on things you do like doing whether that's sport or music.

Hopefully these three things will help bring down your anxiety when you return to school.