Particularly after the long summer holidays, that ‘back to school’ feeling can be felt very heavily by many students and can negatively impact their whole attitude and approach to their studies in the first few weeks of term. Read on to discover 6 ways to help prepare students for the return to school and maintain both confidence and a positive mindset.
Try to model a practical, can-do, approach.
It’s important to nurture a sense of safety and, at the moment, bear in mind that until a certain age, children don’t have the emotional maturity to process bad news, so keep exposure to negative news media at a minimum for younger students. Try to talk about the future in a positive way to promote optimism and enthusiasm.
Develop a sense of safety.
Contextualise media reports for older students and remind them that you are there to answer their questions or discuss specific fears. Encourage families to consider visiting the school grounds before term officially starts so that the first day back feels less daunting. You might also encourage parents to allow little ones to take a favourite comfort toy into school to form a reassuring gap between home and school. They can be hidden in a pocket or at the bottom of a bag but just their presence can help calm nerves.
Ask for help.
If a student is clearly struggling a lot with anxiety, suggest a virtual meeting with the form teacher where your student can share their worries. Some schools have Family Liaison Officers or wellbeing mentors who could also help here too; identifying a trusted adult for the child so they know they have someone at school whom they can go to if things get too much counts for so much.
If students come to you with their worries, count to ten in your head before you answer them, then normalise and reframe their emotions into a more positive statement. If they tell you they are afraid of going back to school, for example, remind them that they probably felt the same way last year and were fine after a few days or weeks. Think about starting a worry jar and encourage the whole family to get involved, writing their concerns down and putting them in a jar. Look at them again after a week and if they are no longer worries, then throw them away. The ones that stay long term are those that need to be dealt with by talking or taking positive action. Sometimes the mere act of writing them down makes them seem smaller.
Encourage students to connect socially.
Turning attentions outwards can instantly reduce anxiety by seeing friends. Encourage students to get together with some school friends before the start of term so they have a friendly face or two on day one.
Promote hopefulness and resilience.
The notion that life moves in cycles is powerful; remind all your students that it’s all about dealing with highs and lows and remembering that ‘all things pass, including this’. It is good to share with students some healthy strategies of how you tend to manage when you feel stressed or frightened; whether it be eating well, talking, exercising or relaxing. Model kind behaviour towards other people and talk about the future in a positive way. Acknowledge that nobody is perfect and show that it’s how you manage life’s ups and downs that helps build resilience.
Bespoke Tuition can support students throughout the academic year as well as holiday periods, offering well-matched tutors who can help with subject content as well as study skill building. We also offer a wide range of specialist courses and clubs to help develop areas such as reading, writing, executive function and debating.