Returning to school after the holidays

Wow! That little voice inside your head is saying, back to school just as the children have started to enjoy being home with each other and we can finish a game without too many tears or arguments!

For some children, returning to school fills them with excitement as they wonder what the term will bring and for others, it can be a time of apprehension as they process the feeling of what if?

Change can bring about a variety of mixed emotions, so how can we best prepare children for the return to school (and ourselves if we are returning to out of home work)  to make the transition as smooth as possible for everyone?



A few days before the start of term commences, start your pre-holiday sleep routine. Going to bed and getting up at the same time each day promotes good sleep patterns which increases the child’s ability to concentrate in learning tasks. Talk about and make a plan of what can be organised the night before school and then what to organise in the morning. Children participating in the decision-making and planning encourages responsibility and independence.



This can be an activity to plan for one of the last days in the holidays when you are all together, it can be a fun activity which could become a family tradition and a positive memory for the children. A celebration of the holidays but also of the term ahead!



Be mindful that not all children will be feeling the same way about returning to school. Look out for signs that your child may be struggling with mixed emotions and not understanding why.

You can support your child by:

    • Tuning In – become aware of the emotions
    • Connect and teach
    • Accept and Listen – show understanding and empathy
    • Reflect – what you see and hear. Name the emotions
    • End with problem solving if necessary



Be prepared, open and willing to answer questions especially if there are concerns with previous experiences of COVID lockdowns. Avoid brushing aside their concerns or making promises – which can be out of your control. Encourage children to ask questions – What will be the same when you go back? What will be different?



As the main influencers in your child’s lives, they will be guided by your attitude and responses. Your support and positive approach to school life, will promote feelings of belonging to the school for your child. Often children need down time when they arrive home – by giving them time and space to process their day, it can bring about more conversation and information. Show your interest with curious questions. I wonder? I’m interested? I’m curious?


If your child is having difficulty settling back into school after the holidays inform the classroom teacher, pastoral care support worker or wellbeing teacher so the necessary supports your child and yourself can be put in place.

At CatholicCare Victoria we offer a School Chaplaincy Program in Ballarat, Bendigo, Mildura, Warrnambool and surrounds, as well as a School Counselling program in Greater Melbourne, Geelong and Gippsland.

To learn more about these services or about our counselling support for children and teens, visit the links below:

School Chaplaincy Program – Ballarat region 

School Chaplaincy Program – Bendigo region

School Counselling Program – Greater Melbourne region 

Counselling for children and teens


Marea Sholly | Coordinator, School Pastoral Care Team

Jenny Phillips | Marketing and Communications Officer



Emerging Minds

Raising Children

Tuning Into Kids

Maggie Dent

Department of Health/Education