New Year, New Challenges: Transitioning Back to School Post-Christmas

by | Dec 15, 2023


The start of a new year often signifies new beginnings and opportunities. However, for SEND pupils, returning to school after the Christmas break can bring about a set of challenges and anxieties. This transition can be made smoother with strategies that re-establish routines, address anxieties, and encourage positive re-integration.

Re-establishing Routines:

The holiday season often disrupts the regular schedule that SEND pupils rely on. Here’s how to re-establish routines:

      1. Gradual Reintroduction: Start reintroducing school routines a few days before school resumes. This can be done through discussions, visual aids, or even role-play. 
      2. Visual Schedules: Provide clear visual schedules that pupils can follow. This helps them visualise the daily structure and understand what to expect next. 
      3. Consistent Communication: Ensure that communication between home and school is consistent, clear, and frequent. Updates and reminders about the school routine can help ease the transition. 

Addressing Anxiety and Change:

Change can be a significant source of anxiety for SEND pupils. Effective strategies include:

      1. Emotional Check-ins: Regular emotional check-ins can help pupils process their feelings about returning to school. This could be facilitated through one-on-one conversations, journals, or group discussions. 
      2. Relaxation Techniques: Teach and encourage relaxation techniques that pupils can use when feeling anxious, such as deep breathing, mindfulness, or quiet reading. 
      3. Familiarity and Reassurance: Reintroduce familiar objects or activities in the classroom to provide comfort and a sense of security for SEND pupils. 

Re-integration Activities:

Re-integration activities can help SEND pupils adjust to being back in school:

      1. Peer Support: Buddy systems or peer support groups can be very effective. They allow SEND pupils to feel supported by their peers and can ease the sense of isolation. 
      2. Structured Group Activities: Plan structured group activities that encourage interaction but within a predictable and controlled environment. 
      3. Celebrating Achievements: Recognise and celebrate the small achievements of SEND pupils in adjusting back to school routines. This positive reinforcement can boost their confidence and motivation. 

Pull-out Quote:

“Embracing the new year means providing the scaffolding that SEND pupils need to climb back into school life with confidence and ease.”


As we navigate the post-Christmas transition, it’s important to remember that each SEND pupil will react differently to the return to school. By utilising the strategies shared today, SENCOs and teaching staff can support pupils through this period of change. We encourage you to tailor these strategies to meet the individual needs of your pupils, ensuring a smooth and supportive start to the new year.

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