8 Easy Ways to Settle Back to School Nerves by Getting Outdoors
It’s that time of year again, our little explorers are heading back to nursery or school. For some of them it’s the first time in a new setting, classroom or their first venture into school altogether - a time full of both excitement, anxiety and emotion (for kids and parents!). Here are 8 ways to settle back to school nerves by getting outdoors:
1. Practice routine
The school or nursery routine is such an important part of daily life, everything is easier when it works smoothly. Practice as much as you can before you start a new term, particularly if your child has never had to follow this particular routine before. You can walk through what needs to happen every morning (from having breakfast, getting dressed and finding their pack lunch to practicing the walk to school. See what you can spot on your walk which can be fun things to look out for every morning.
2. Show them their school playground
Go and take a look at the school playground in advance. Help them imagine what fun they’ll get up to running around the playing field or climbing on the climbing frame. You could also point out any nice outdoor spaces for if they’re feeling overwhelmed when they’re away from you “That tree looks like a nice spot to sit in the shade if you need some quiet time at playtime”.
3. Plan a playground meet with other children from the class
Ease the nerves of meeting new classmates by organising to meet up with new children before the term starts at an informal playground meet. It may be the children don’t talk to each other yet but they have the chance to be around faces that will become familiar and start to work out friendship dynamics in a safe space with you nearby.
4. Encourage outdoor free play after school
Whenever possible, encourage outdoor free play after school. Make the most of the remaining nice weather and let your children run of steam. If they’ve spent most of their day in the same classroom it’s always nice for them to have the freedom to run, shout, leap, spin, skip and everything else little bodies need to do to develop physically and process their experiences most fully.
This free play could be back at home in the garden or somewhere local where other children can meet up and strengthen their friendships away from school.
5. Eat alfresco after school
A lovely way to bring more outdoor time to their school day is to spend some family time outdoors with a picnic, BBQ or snack in the open air. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, even their normal dinner served outdoors in the sunshine is great for little bodies and minds. Plus, it saves on clear up indoors!
6. Go for a family walk
When our children aren’t ready to talk about their day, a family walk could be what’s in order. If your kids have the energy, go on a short, picturesque walk together and soak up the sights while you let conversation progress without pressure. Chatting while talking is a great way to discuss things you might want to talk about but are not able to say face-to-face.
7. Play with your kids outdoors
Once the back to school routine begins it’s easy to fall into the trap of day-in, day-out adult responsibility and to feel your anxiety levels rise. There’s always so much to be done to keep it all together! Take some time to shake off your adult seriousness and PLAY. This can be both with your kids (they’ll love it) and with other grownups (think a garden party, a game of tennis, or a stroll with no children in tow). Get outdoors for the pure joy of it and make relaxation a priority in your schedule.
If you’d like some ideas of how to have fun with your kids outdoors - read this mega blog full of fun outdoor family ideas here.
8. Wind down with outdoor mindfulness
Getting outdoors is crucial to our mental and physical wellbeing and a really easy way to quickly unwind. Encourage your children to settle their nerves and wind down with these easy outdoor mindfulness ideas:
- Watch the clouds
Ask your children if they can spot any interesting shapes or characters in the clouds? Are they still or are they moving? What stories can you make up from looking at the clouds?
- Hug a tree
Reconnect with nature and help your child ground themselves to the present moment (and reduce anxiety held within their bodies) by simply hugging a tree! It may look mad but it’s great for our health. Try it yourself too!
- Make a nature collage
Take the family on a nature scavenger hunt and find as many pretty or interesting objects you can - petals, leaves, conkers, acorns, stones, twigs etc. Then either lay them out on the ground and make a picture on the floor or bring home to stick down on paper with glue.
- Try outdoor yoga
Our kids are never too young to enjoy the benefits of using their bodies! Yoga is particularly beneficial for both parents and child. It helps refine balance, strengthen coordination and boost focus as well as encouraging mind-body connection. The good news is, you don’t have to be a yoga expert yourself to help your kids have a try! Take a look at these fab animal inspired poses for easy ideas to try.
- Go on a sensory walk
We’ve already touched on going for a walk to bond as a family and help aid conversation, but taking a sensory walk is an alternative if you want to quiet busy minds after a hard week at school. A sensory walk is simply a walk you take in which you intentionally pay attention to the sights, sounds, smells and sensations you experience as you explore. Ask your children what they see? What they hear? What they can feel? Download our Adventure Kit for prompt ideas as you get out and about!
Help them unwind without getting overheated with our Trailblazer kids baseball cap.
Don’t forget to keep your young adventurers protected on the school run and in the playground as summer comes to an end. Take a look at our smart technology kids summer and autumn-ready hats to keep them protected in style.
Fresh Air Stories: Kat Brown in Kent. The first in a series of interviews talking openly about how we can get our kids outside more.