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How to get into the back-to-school mindset

Sep 7, 2023, 9:10 AM

Getting into the back to school mindset

As the end of the summer holidays draws near, it's time to get mentally prepared for the new school year. Of the parents here at Atom, some of our kids can't wait for September, while others are currently less keen.

After weeks of relaxation and fun, it's natural to have mixed feelings about going back. The good news is, there are small steps you can take towards the end of the holidays to help. Your child will soon feel excited to take on the new term!

Start with a healthy routine

One of the most difficult parts of going back to school (or back to work) is the sudden change to our routine. As hard as this is for anyone to deal with, it can be particularly challenging for younger children.

Ease into the transition during the last couple of weeks of the holidays. Make gradual changes to mealtimes and bedtimes – try going to bed earlier by 15 minutes every few days. Find tips for your back-to-school sleep routine here.

Start waking up, getting dressed, and having breakfast at the same time each day. Once you've got a morning routine in place, the end of the holidays won't feel anywhere near as painful. Adjusting to the new schedule will go much more smoothly. And your child will have more energy to focus and process all their new experiences.

Set a positive tone

Talk with your child about all the exciting things that await them in September. If your child is dreading losing some of their holiday freedom, encourage a balanced view.

It's OK to feel sad to say goodbye to lie-ins, bike rides, beach trips, and hours of gaming and lounging. But make sure you give equal or greater discussion time to the positive things that the new term will give them.

Seeing friends, favourite activities, sports, music, clubs, school trips, new subjects to discover! There are lots of experiences to look forward to that they can only have during the school year. And remind them that they'll still have time to do the things they enjoy (just not all day every day).

Encourage your child to plan their new weekly routine. As well as scheduling time for homework, make sure they include all the fun activities they'll get to do in the new term. You can download a blank schedule here for your child to fill in:

A blank schedule template for your child to fill in their daily routine

Download template

Refresh academic skills

After a long time away, the knowledge your child gained before the summer can get a little rusty. But try to avoid talking about needing to 'catch up' – this feels like a chore. Instead, frame it as 'reminding' and 'refreshing our memory'. (Teachers take this approach to avoid putting excess pressure on children).

Spend some low-key time reviewing topics from last year. Do activities like reading together, solving puzzles, or playing educational games. This will help re-engage their learning muscles and build confidence for the year ahead. Discuss what kinds of things they're going to cover at school so they know what to expect and what to look forward to.

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Get everything ready

Putting all the practical pieces in place will do wonders to help your child get into a back-to-school mindset. Here are our favourite tips:

Create a dedicated study space

A 'homework area' will help your child focus and get back into the learning mindset. It could be a quiet corner in their room or a section of the kitchen table. Make sure the space is organised, well-lit, and free from distractions.

Letting them take ownership of setting up their study space can help them get excited to use it. Make it cosy and decorate it with shiny new stationery, stickers and a desk plant.

Practise the journey

If your child is starting a new school, plan their route out and practise it together a few times. They'll feel prepared and ready to go for their first day of term.

Will September be their first time getting the bus alone or biking to school? Taking their next steps towards independence is exciting!

Pack school items

The new year is the perfect opportunity for a fresh start and new habits! Help your child develop independence by practising getting their school supplies ready.

Let them choose a new backpack and pack all the things they'll need for their first day of school. Make sure they have the right uniform, PE kit and any school supplies such as books and stationery.

Children packing their school bags.

Talk through worries

It's natural for children to feel nervous as the new school year approaches. Moving up a year often means a larger workload at a more challenging level. It also comes with lots of unknowns – new classrooms, new teachers and new responsibilities.

If your child is moving up to secondary school, it's quite common to feel anxious or overwhelmed. They may be worried about making the journey, navigating the school building, making new friends and coping with homework. It can all feel daunting.

Encourage your child to keep talking about these feelings with you. Getting worries out in the open can help them become a lot more manageable. Check out tips for easing back-to-school nerves here. If you think your child would benefit from more support with their mental health, talk to their GP.

Foster a growth mindset

A growth mindset is the belief that skills aren't fixed, but are developed over time through practice. This encourages us to embrace challenges and learn from mistakes. A growth mindset will help your child to approach the new term with enthusiasm and resilience.

Sit down with your child and discuss their goals for the upcoming school year. Help them break down these goals into smaller, achievable steps. Regularly review and celebrate progress to help keep them motivated. You can find our top five tips for building a study routine here.

Your child will likely take some time to adjust to their new routine (and might be exhausted for the first week of term) but they'll get back into the swing of things. The back-to-school season is an opportunity for growth, new experiences, and exciting adventures. Approach it with optimism and enthusiasm, and watch your child thrive!

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