Back to School Poem | Reduce Anxiety in Children

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Written by Alison Smith

Going back to school is such an exciting time for many children! And yet it can also be a time of trepidation and uncertainty. So, it’s vital that we take the time to acknowledge these feelings and do our best to ease anxiety in children.

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To help children transition back to school Steph Mulrooney, (one of our highly experienced teachers and Resource Producers) has written the Back to School Today! PoemIt’s perfectly timed and perfectly pitched for kids. This poem is a must for the first day back after a break!

A poem to reduce anxiety in children.

“So why do I feel butterflies deep
down within my core?
Why do I feel nervous, and
reluctant, and unsure?”

Read on to find out how you can use the poem, Back to School Today! as part of an engaging activity in your lower, middle or upper-year classroom…


Back to School Today – Circle Time

Our brand new poem, Back to School Today! is ideal to use as part of a whole-class discussion or Circle Time.

As we know, Circle Time is a popular activity used in many primary schools to help build positive relationships between students and also with the teacher. It’s a great way to break down barriers and work through problems. Circle Time is usually led by the teacher who sits in the circle with their pupils.

Sit in a circle for class discussion!

Shutterstock image by Monkey Business Images.

One of the best ways to reduce anxiety in children is to create a safe space and time for them to share their feelings. Below, you’ll find a suggested circle time activity that uses our Back to School Today! Poem as a starting point.


Circle Time Activity

The following circle time activity is ideal to share with your students on the first day back after a break! Begin by arranging your students in a seated circle and reading aloud Back to School Today! Poem.

Perfect for whole-class discussion!

Suggested Circle Time Activity:

  1. Read Back to School Today! and discuss how the character in the poem feels.
  2. Draw out from your discussion that the character feels a mix of emotions, and that these feelings change over time.
  3. Encourage students to recall how they felt when they woke up that morning.
  4. Model how to complete the sentence – “When I woke up this morning I felt…”
  5. Give students thinking time to plan their response.
  6. Encourage students to take it in turns to complete the sentence verbally.
  7. Provide students with a pass option if they do not wish to share.

For students who find it hard to verbalise their feelings, use our Emoji Themed Self-Assessment Desk Cards that are perfect for circle time.

Reduce anxiety for children with these Emoji themed cards.

An ideal lifeline for students who find verbalising their feelings hard.

At the end of your discussion, thank your students for sharing. Reassure your students their feelings are normal and that they are not alone.


Making Connections

Reading poems, books and a wide variety of relatable texts can offer great comfort to kids. Poems like Back to School Today! Poem they are given the opportunity to make connections. These connections can include text-to-text, text-to-self and text-to-world.

So when you have read Back to School Today! Poem, use our 120 Comprehension Strategy Question Cards to help students apply comprehension strategies when reading.

Reading comprehension and making connections.

120 Comprehension Strategy Question Cards!

Next, encourage your students to record their connections to the poem with this Making Connections Worksheet.

Making Connections Worksheet.

For more teaching resources to help your students to make connections between texts and life experiences head to our collection of Making Connections Teaching Resources.


QAR Generic

For Years 3-6, check out our QAR Generic Question CardsHere you’ll find a set of 28 generic Question/Answer/Relationship cards to use as a comprehension task after reading Back to School Today! Poem.

Students use the cards to apply QAR (Question/Answer/Relationship) strategies to respond to different question types such as:

  • In the Text – Right There/Think and Search
  • In My Head – Author and Me/On My Own.

Make Time for Emotional Support

Parents and guardians play a critical role in reducing anxiety in their children. But as teachers, we play an important part in providing emotional support. So, to help your class transition back to school with ease, share Back to School Today! Poem.

Shutterstock image by Sharomka.

For more ideas and teaching resources to support students with social and emotional development, read Holly’s blog, Teaching Emotions to Kids in the Classroom.

Here’s wishing you and your students the greatest start to a new beginning!

Share you welcome back photos on Instagram #teachstarter

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Comments & feedback

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Hi. I shared this with my Year 4 families on the final check in email PowerPoint last week and I emailed it to all the staff at my school. I have also put a copy on my classroom door and at the front of my classroom on the whiteboard for when all the students return tomorrow. I think it is a wonderful poem and really expresses how kids would be feeling and being able to talk about this with them will make them feel safe and ok. Thank you so much, it is a fabulous resource!

Sam Bollard · May 24th, 2020

Hi Sam,

Thank you for your lovely feedback! We’re so glad to hear that the resource has hit the mark!

Paul (Teach Starter) · May 25th, 2020

Used this resource yesterday with 1/2 classes as part of our social and emotional lesson. They loved it! They really responded to how the character was feeling and could identify their own feelings

Emma · May 19th, 2020

Thank you so much for this positive feedback, Emma! As the author of the poem, this means a great deal to me. Thank you, and have a wonderful day!

Stephanie (Teach Starter) · May 19th, 2020

Thank you for this amazing resource! In Canberra, we are heading back to school on Monday, and I know there will be a few anxious parents and kids. The activities you have provided are great for the first day back where we are almost having to treat the day as Day 1 Week 1 at the beginning of the year and re-establishing the connections and relationships with our students

Emma · May 12th, 2020

Hi Emma,
Thanks for your positive feedback! We really do appreciate how hard it is for teachers and students at this time. We wish you all a smooth transition back to the new normal!
Ali 🙂

Alison Smith · May 13th, 2020

Excellent poem for a great first day back at school activity – thank you!

Angela Hade Harris · May 12th, 2020

You’re most welcome, Angela! We hope your students enjoy it!

Paul (Teach Starter) · May 12th, 2020

A wonderful, thoughtful activity. I will be using it when the children return in two weeks time. Thank you.

Gina Simpson · May 12th, 2020

Hi Gina,

Thank you for your lovely feedback!

Paul (Teach Starter) · May 12th, 2020

Fantastic, the poem is perfect!

Michelle Wilkinson · May 12th, 2020

Thank you so much for the positive feedback, Michelle. As the author of the poem, this means a great deal to me! All the best with the return to school. Have a wonderful day!

Stephanie (Teach Starter) · May 12th, 2020

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