Returning to school after the summer holidays was always a tough time for me. In primary school it meant being assigned a new teacher, one which I was unfamiliar with. I distinctly remember the morning I was due to begin Year 5 having a melt-down over the thought of a new teacher. I did not want to go to school unless I would be in a class with my Year 4 teacher who I had spent the previous year getting used to. My Mum eventually persuaded me to attend school that day but my anxiety levels were high.
I often tried to pull a sick day on the first day back after the summer holidays. I would hope if I could persuade my parents I was ill then I wouldn’t have to face the change – they never fell for it. My scheming also backfired on me, on my first day in Year 3 I did not feel well but my parents assumed I was pulling my usual act and sent me to attend school. Turned out, this year I was ill, I had tonsillitis and before the end of the first lesson my breakfast came back up all over my table and the unfortunate girl sitting next to me.
Secondary school was worse, it meant not only being assigned one new teacher but multiple new teachers, in new classrooms and a new lesson timetable. I dreaded the first day back, by the end of the previous year I had usually only just gotten my head around where I would find all of my classrooms and then I would have to start from scratch. It also meant a bunch of new classmates and new people to judge me as the ‘weirdo who doesn’t speak’.
The hardest part was getting back into a routine. During the summer holidays I would be able to sleep for as many hours as I needed for my body to recuperate. Back to school meant back to keeping my eyes pinned open all day until I could have a nap at 3:30 pm . If you or your child are due to finish their summer holidays soon, my advice would be to start the routine a week before, making sure they get early-ish nights and are woken up at the time they would be if they had school. This will give you/them time to get their body-clock readjusted.
The one part of going back to school I did enjoy was going stationary shopping. Seeing it all lined up so orderly in the shops was very pleasing. Buying the gear made me feel like I was physically ready to tackle the school year – even if mentally I wasn’t. The excitement of being able to use a new pen or paper pad made that first day back that little bit more bearable.
To help you or your child prepare for their first day back at school take time to talk through what will be expected and what may happen on that first day back. Maybe ask the school if you or your child could meet with the new teacher so there is some familiarity or if you could obtain a lesson timetable in advance so you can begin to digest the new information. Also, make sure there’s something to look forward to during that first day, maybe some new stationery or a nice packed lunch – a reward for being brave and facing that first day back.
For further tips on preparing for going back to school, click here.