Back to school: Tiktokers share 9 best hacks to help parents and carers prepare children for classroom return
There are tips that are appropriate for pupils of any age in this list
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Summer is almost over, and for children and young people aged four to 18 up and down the country that means one thing - back to school. For parents of those children it also means it’s time to prepare them for the return to the classroom. Or, in some cases, to step foot in a classroom for the very first time.
There are a lot of emotions that can come up for both parent and child around this time of year; nervousness, excitement, hopefulness and also fear. It’s also quite possible to feel a combination of emotions, but no matter what the first day of a new school year is a big transition to adapt to after many weeks of summertime fun.
The good news is that there’s plenty of advice out there for parents who would like a helping hand when it comes to how best to prepare their son or daughter for that first day. The hashtag #BackToSchool currently has almost 30 billion views on TikTok as parents and parenting experts all take to the social media channel to try to help each other through this time. But, we know that if you are a parent you are strapped for time, especially as the back to school date gets ever closer. So, NationalWorld has looked through the videos and picked out some of the best hacks. Keep reading for 9 of the best that we found, and remember that they can be applied to children of any age.
Try not to show your nerves
Nanny Laura Amies says: “You may be nervous for your child but wherever possible try not to show them. It’s preferable to lead with positivity when you can.” She added that this may be particularly tricky for parents of first time school starters as they embark on this “right of passage” and that nerves felt by parents of children of any age are perfectly valid - but that as children “have got enough on their plate” when it comes to going to school it’s best to not show them your emotions if you can.
Validate your children’s nerves - but don’t dwell on them
Children are also bound to feel nervous about going to school for the first time or going back to school for the first time in weeks and moving up a school year. Aimes, who has over 205,000 followers, said it’s important for parents and carers to acknowledge this, but not dwell on it. Instead, she says, you may want to tell your child that feeling nervous is your body’s way of preparing for something new and then ask them if they would like to do an activity like reading a book or watching TV to help them relax. She adds: “You’re addressing it, and you’re letting them know why it’s happening but then we’re moving on.”
Teach your children about magic numbers
This is a way to explain to a child that the more you do something the more you will get used to it and the easier it will become. The concept is simple: you tell your child that it’s perfectly normal to feel nervous about something that you’ve never done before or haven’t done for a long time, but that the magic numbers are 3 and ten. Then explain that once you have done something 3 times they will feel a bit better and then by the time they’ve done it ten times they will feel much better about it. Ted Bradshaw, CBT Therapist and father-of-three, explains in his video that this is a great way of helping children deal with school nerves. “They (children) don’t have a concept of time. Just saying to them ‘look, it will get better the more that you do it’, it’s hard for them to understand that because they don’t really understand what next Tuesday is, for example.”
The dad, who has more than 28,000 followers, added: “The other thing that can be really helpful about this is it gives them permission to still be nervous on day 2 or day 7. You’re not saying ‘it’s all going to be brilliant after a few days’, you’re saying ‘yes, you probably will still feel nervous at that point’ and you’re getting them to check in with how they feel. It just gives them a little bit of a path and feeling like they’re heading in the right direction in a way that they can actually understand.”
Use bedtime fading
If your child’s bedtime is too late to allow them to get the sleep they would need in order to get up for school then start bringing bedtime forward by 10 to 15 minutes every couple of days in the week leading up to the first day of school. Amies says this will slowly help to readjust their body clock.
Do a dry run
Amies says that if your child is going to be starting at a new school this September then it may help them if you do a dry run of going to school so they know what to expect. This could be familiarising them with the car journey there, or making sure they know which bus to get on, or just making sure they know exactly where the school building is and what it looks like. Many children had transition days before the end of the previous school year, but as this was a few weeks ago things could have been forgotten and a refresher may help them to feel more prepared when the first day comes around.
Don’t talk about going back to school all the time
Talking constantly about going back to school or going to school for the first time can create anxiety around this, says one mum who is known as Hannah. In her video, she explains it’s best to make sure you “don’t make a big deal out of it.”
Change your morning routine - and get the kids involved
Amies believes that it’s a good idea to start adapting morning and bedtime routines around back-to-school times in the week in the run up to back to school. This is because if going to school is the only reason why your child can’t sit around in the morning watching TV in their pyjamas they will quickly start to resent it, she says. Instead, changing the routine early will help for a smoother transition for back to school.
Hannah, who has almost 230,000 followers, also suggests discussing the changes to the morning routine that will be necessary for back to school with your child, but also get them involved and ask them if there’s anything they would like to do, such as singing a certain nursery rhyme or song or playing with a favourite toy. She added: “I know that’s really hard in a rushed morning routine but there might be something, like if they want to have their breakfast in the orange bowl. Let them be in control of certain parts of their morning routine.” Alternatively, you could also let them set their own alarm so that they will get up in time for school.
Have a structured after school routine
Hannah believes that having a structured after school routine will help children to feel calm after school because they know exactly what’s coming. She adds that she would feed her children the same snack and also give them the same activity to do in the car on the way home from school as a way to “decompress” after lessons.
Bridge the gap between home and school
Some children struggle with not only going back to school, but also with leaving their home and family behind.
One mum who is known only by the name Abbye posted a video recommending that mums and dads spray some of their perfume or cologne on their child’s school shirt. The mum who has more than 550,000 followers, says: “Scent can be a really powerful, grounding sense so when they get nervous, when they get scared, when they get panicky, they can just smell their shirt and there’s that familiar scent. IT can be hugely comforting for them when you can’t be there to comfort them.”
Amies also suggests letting your child choose something special that they could take to school with them as a reminder of home. This could be a keyring, for example. She adds: “This may also help them to take a little ownership as being able to choose something to take with them is empowering and fun.”
Hannah adds that you could leave a note in your child’s lunchbox so they know you are thinking of them.