A Norland Nanny shares her expert tips to make back to school easier for the whole family

In partnership with Next

The start of a new school year can trigger a host of emotions, with many children navigating feelings of excitement, anxiety, optimism and dread. Some will be eagerly awaiting a reunion with their friends, the chance to get back into a routine and study new subjects.

But others will be feeling apprehensive to leave their family and safe, familiar home, with concerns over their new teacher, bringing the right kit to school and keeping up with their homework. It can be a stressful time for parents too, with a list of uniform and stationery to tick off whilst supporting your child emotionally and juggling the work:life balance.

We spoke to Mandy Edmond, Vice Principal, Head of Quality and Standards and Registrar at Norland – whose Nannies are trusted to provide early years training and education for children of the royal family and high profile celebrities – for her advice…

When and how should a parent address concerns of a child who is anxious about returning to school? 

"It is important that children get a break from school and enjoy their holidays – being outdoors, playing and having fun. But the sooner you can address worries about school, the better. Children can struggle to express their concerns in words and this is when you need to watch out for changes in their behaviour, as you know your own child the best.

"Try to start a conversation reading a story about school or sharing your own memories – you could say things like, 'I think you might be a bit worried about going back to school – what is troubling you?', or 'When I was little, I used to be worried about starting a new class because…'   

"Show them that you understand and that it is normal to feel that way. Most young children are resilient and, when they are surrounded by adults who listen to them, understand their needs and respond appropriately, they are able to bounce back."

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How do you best recommend a child and parent prepare for school together?

"First, from a practical point of view, find out from the school what the arrangements are for coats, bags, toilets, lunch and PE. These little things can weigh heavily on a child’s mind. Help your child develop a plan for the routine of the day and make sure they know what they can do or who to ask if they are unsure while at school. Check that they can open their lunch box and drink bottle themselves, and that they can get themselves dressed after the toilet and PE, and easily put their shoes on and off.

"You can then add some fun by letting them choose a new school bag or lunchbox and help them to meal plan. Invite some of their classmates on a ‘back to school party picnic’ with their lunch boxes so that they can all practice unwrapping their food, and demo some games they can play together at breaktime. 

"For older children, you might like to help them create a homework station in the house, with some lovely new stationery and a notice board. Try to engender fun and excitement about returning to school without overlooking their genuine concerns. Talk about the friends they will see, the clubs they can attend, the trips they will go on, and how you’re so proud of them growing up."

Offering all the back to school essentials for a range of ages at great value, Next has done the homework to ensure a hassle-free new term for parents. Available in store and online, the School Shop offers huge choice with its own brand of uniform, shoes and accessories plus the likes of Nike, Adidas and Hype for a wardrobe that works as hard as they (and you!) do.

Knitted V-Neck School Jumper 3-18 years from £8, Adidas Tensaur Sport Hook and Loop School Trainers £23School Formal Straight Trousers 3-17yrs from £8Black Puffer Jacket 3-17 years from £20Puff Sleeve Lace Trim School Blouse 3-14 years from £5Start-Rite Imagine T-bar Black Leather School Shoes £60Ruffle Detail Pinafore 3-14 years from £10Crew Neck School Sweater in Charcoal, 3-17 years from £8Blue Camouflage Bag, £21Shower Resistant Padded Coat 3-16 years from £242 pack Cotton School Polo Shirts, 3-16 years from £7Clarks Black Dinosaur Sole Wide Fit Leather Shoes, £46, all from Next

SHOP V NECK     SHOP TRAINERS     SHOP TROUSERS
SHOP BLACK PUFFER    SHOP BLUE BLOUSE      SHOP MARY JANE SHOES
SHOP PINAFORE     SHOP SWEATER     SHOP RUCKSACK
SHOP PINK PUFFER      SHOP WHITE POLO     SHOP SHOES

Shoes are playground-proof and made from soft, supple leather, available in half sizes and multiple widths for the most comfortable fit. New styles from Clarks and Start-Rite will make a smart impression – choose from adorable shiny Mary-Jane styles with bows or hearts, or hard-wearing lace-ups or brogues. Try this free Happy Fit shoe measuring guide for an accurate fit.

Clever innovations on trousers, shirts and skirts include a gentle stretch to allow for active, adventurous kids and a Teflon barrier to repel water, dirt and stains for even the most artistic child! Jumpers, cardigans, shirts and dresses are available in a range of colourways including black, charcoal, white, blue, red and green – just select according to the school’s individual rules. 

Wrap up warm for the great British winter with cosy coats for age 1-16 years – you'll find puffas, parkas and more formal options. There’s also an array of accessories which you can have fun choosing together, from rainbow-striped backpacks to brightly patterned water bottles, and cartoon-illustrated pencil cases.

SHOP BACK TO SCHOOL AT NEXT

How can a parent ensure a child feels relaxed at home?

"Children need their physical and emotional needs met by adults who respect and love them. Whilst some children can communicate verbally, all children need alert and responsive adults around them to recognise when things are not right and to find out what’s wrong. 

"Emotion coaching techniques can support a child’s behaviour, helping them to learn to empathise, self-calm and self-regulate themselves so they can better cope with life’s ups and downs or new experiences.

"When your child feels anxious or overwhelmed, take them to a calm space in the house and acknowledge how they might be feeling and empathise. Validate their concerns, and be explicit about how you’re helping them and why. Then make a plan together and ensure you follow it through. 

"If they have concerns over a new school, you might take a walk together to look at the building and choose the best route, or help them try on their new school uniform and test out hairstyles ahead of term time."

What are your suggestions for children missing their home or family?

"For those children who may miss being at home, I recommend bringing something in to provide a 'bridge' between home and the school and help them feel closer to their parents. This could be a shell or a stone you’ve found together on a walk, or a photograph of the two (or all) of you that lets them know that you’re thinking of them. We call this 'being held in mind'. Print a photo, keep one each and tell your child that you’ll be looking at the photo during the day and will be thinking of them, suggesting they could do the same."

Get set for the new term with The School Shop by Next, online and in stores now.

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