Back to school

So, how’s the first week back been? Are you struggling to settle back in to school life, to a new routine different to the one you experienced last year, to all the changes that a new year brings?

I’ve been working in 3 different schools this week and have been aware of some of the children who are settling back in to school, be it school for the first time, a new school or a new year. I’ve also seen some excellent examples of staff helping children to settle in.

In one school the nursery team had identified the 10 children most likely to struggle with starting school. They were invited to start this week with the other children joining them the following week. With 6 members of staff available to work with them they were able to have individual support and time in adjusting to school. Whilst this might seem like a huge investment I am sure this initiative will pay off in terms of enabling more secure attachments to school staff, less anxiety and a greater likelihood they will feel safe and secure at school and thus able to learn.

In another school the nursery prioritised transition to reception in the last half of the summer term and started this term with more follow up transition activities. The reception teacher reports that children who had been a cause for concern last year appear to be settling in to their new year comfortably.

I’d love to hear what strategies you have adopted to help children settle back in to school this year. What appears to be working for you? And if you would like some help with more suggestions take a look at these strategies from my Making a Difference Book:S

  • Spend time with the whole class talking about the kind of class they want to have, how they want it to feel etc, depending on their age, encourage them to work in pairs to identify ways they can create this E.g. “We want to feel relaxed, we can do this by helping each other”
  • Be consistent and predictable so the children come to know and trust what to expect from you
  • Acknowledge the changes that are occurring as they are happening E.g. “It can feel really hard and a bit strange at the start of the year as we don’t know each other yet, but we will get to know each other the more we spend time together”
  • Implement a settling in activity with the class where they are encouraged to draw or write about their worries or fears about being in a new class. These can be put in a box for you to look at individually or shared with the class as a discussion. (Keep them as they will be looked at again with the children in the last half term)
  • Use gentle reminders of whole class behavioural expectations E.g. ‘Who can I see that looks ready to listen? Who can I see that looks ready for learning?’

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