My child is worried about going back to school

Your child may be feeling worried or anxious about what to expect when they go back to school. If your child has been diagnosed with anxiety, their feelings may seem overwhelming at times.

Talking it through with them and looking forward to the best bits can help.

Young boy doing school work

Ask how they’re feeling

  • Even if your child doesn’t seem too worried, it’s still important to ask how they feel about returning to school.
  • If they are visibly worried, ask them what they feel anxious about. It’s easier for you to support them if they have a particular concern.
  • Reassure them it’s OK to have these worries and praise them for sharing them with you.

Make a plan

Worries, anxious thoughts or anxiety can happen if your child feels out of control. It helps to find things they can control and start from there:

  • Can they make the school routine more enjoyable? Try making a morning playlist.
  • Young children might not have seen friends since school closed. Could you arrange a meet up online beforehand?
  • How will they get used to the new routine and get enough sleep? Could they practise waking up early for a few days before school starts?
  • Ask what they will miss from being at home. Are they worried they won’t get to spend as much time with you? Reassure them and continue to make time for this once school resumes.
  • Children who have to get to school by themselves might be nervous if they haven’t done this for a long time. Practise the journey with them beforehand, or go with them on the first day back.
  • Suggest they make a list of feel good activities to do when they’re having a bad day. They could choose a reward for themselves, too. Or make a soothing box to fill with items they like the look, smell, touch or taste of.
  • If your child is refusing to go back to school, do some reading on how to cope with this.

Sometimes anxious feelings can seem overwhelming or even cause panic attacks. There are lots of activities you can try in our emotional wellbeing section.

    Find the positives

    After so much time away, hopefully your child will also have things to look forward to. These might include:

    • Seeing their friends again.
    • Having renewed independence (taking themselves to and from school).
    • Their favourite subject and/or teacher.
    • Getting back into a routine. This makes free time more fun.

    Worried about your child’s education? Our one-to-one Teacher Talk service is here to help. Ask about any education topic, from school refusal to worries about your child not keeping up. Our volunteer education professionals will listen and offer judgment-free advice. Fill in our short form, and we’ll put you in touch by email, phone or video call. 

      Go back

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      Back to school: getting ready

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      How can I help when my child feels anxious?

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