A Censuswide study has revealed 80% of parents are feeling anxious about their child’s transition to a new school year
This soars to 90% amongst those whose kids are about to move up to secondary school
NatWest Rooster Money has revealed the top 10 concerns making parents anxious ahead of back to school, highlighting the need for some extra reassurance
The most common concern for parents of year-sevens-to-be was whether they’ll make new friends – closely followed by how they’ll manage their new workload and how they’ll cope with so much novelty at once
To ease their worries, NatWest Rooster Money has teamed up with clinical psychologist, author and parenting influencer Dr Martha Deiros Collado to share practical tips on how parents can help their child ace the leap to a new school year
A poll of 1,000 UK parents has revealed 80% of parents with kids aged nine to 13 are feeling anxious about their child’s transition to a new school year.
The study, conducted by Censuswide for kids’ pocket money app NatWest Rooster Money, found this leaps up to 90% amongst parents whose kids are about to make the move to secondary school, underscoring the mixed emotions the juncture evokes for many families.
Back to school worries ranked:
The most common things keeping parents up at night ahead of their kids embarking on a new academic year rank as follows:
How they’ll manage their new workload (40%)
Whether they'll make friends (37%)
How they'll cope with so much novelty at once (27%)
Whether they’ll have the things they need each day, such as stationery, PE kit, textbooks, etc (25%)
How they'll manage getting to and from school (20%)
What they'll eat during the day (19%)
Whether they'll behave in lessons (17%)
How they'll adjust to being the youngest in the school again (17%)
That they’ll get lost in school (12%)
That they won't budget their school money correctly (10%)
The new school year fear: it amps up at secondary school
Unsurprisingly, secondary school is a huge turning point. Not only does feeling anxious about the return to school become more common, but the reasons behind that shift. The proportion of parents with concerns around their child making friends goes from less than a third (32%) ahead of year six to the majority (53%) ahead of year seven.
Similarly, fears around whether they’ll budget things like lunch money correctly nearly quadruple (5% pre year six to 18% pre year seven), and worries about how they’ll get themselves to school and back leap up from 21% to 31%.
But parents can perhaps take solace that the jitters soon ease off. While overall anxiety skyrockets ahead of year seven, with 90% of those parents affected, it suddenly drops off among parents of soon-to-be year eights (77%) and soon-to-be year nines (75%).
How mums and dads measure up
When looking at the difference in emotions between parents, dads are slightly more anxious than mums overall (83% versus 79%). But the places their worries are focused are slightly different.
Mums are more likely than dads to fret about how their child will cope with work (42% versus 35%), whether they’ll make friends (39% versus 33%) or whether they’ll get lost (13% versus 10%).
Meanwhile, dads are a touch more likely than mums to dwell on practicalities such as how they’ll get to school (24% versus 19%) and what they’ll eat while there (22% versus 18%).
“It’s not just kids who have worries and concerns around going back to school – it’s an emotional time for parents as well. Hopefully these findings reassure them that it’s absolutely normal and we’re all in the same boat. By teaming up with Dr Martha, we're aiming to empower as many families as we can with the information and support they need at this critical time in their children’s lives – to help them take on this next big adventure.
We know from our experience at Rooster that going to school can be a milestone for children feeling more independent. Whether it's getting transport to school on their own, gaining more independence with their money or doing more with their friends. The key thing is acknowledging and giving them independence, but making sure there’s always a listening ear for support when they need it.”
Will Carmichael, CEO of NatWest Rooster Money
“Transitioning to secondary school is a huge milestone, at a time when children are also going through the early stages of puberty – and the physical, psychological and emotional changes that come with it. It can all feel daunting and exciting at the same time, and as their parent, you’re the best person to guide them through it.
“Boost your child’s self-esteem by focusing on their strengths and noticing the ways they’ve grown, build their confidence by letting them take small, safe risks in and outside the home, and encourage their excitement by chatting about the opportunities ahead they’re looking forward to. But critically, don’t neglect the more difficult emotions they might be experiencing – whether it’s worries about going somewhere new or sadness about leaving friends behind, ensure they feel heard and supported and work it through together.”
Dr Martha Deiros Collado, clinical psychologist, author and parenting expert
This research follows NatWest Rooster Money’s Pocket Money Index 2022/23 findings earlier this year. The year-long study of more than 119,000 children’s financial habits revealed the beginning of secondary school as a trigger for newfound independent spending. Ranking 7th in the list of places to spend money was public transport, while food outlets including Co-op, Tesco, McDonald’s and Sainsbury’s all featured within the top 10 most popular places for kids to spend.
The research was conducted by Censuswide with a sample of 1,000 parents (aged 24+) of children aged 9-13 years old. The survey fieldwork took place between 11.08.2023 and 14.08.2023.
Further findings include the top 5 things parents are anxious about when thinking about their child’s transition to the next school year, detailed below.
How they’ll manage their new workload (35%)
Whether they’ll make new friends (33%)
How they’ll cope with so much novelty at once (26%)
Having the right things for school each day (25%)
How they’ll manage getting to and from school (20%)
Parents with kids moving up to secondary school:
Whether they’ll make new friends (53%)
How they’ll manage their new workload (52%)
How they’ll cope with so much novelty at once (43%)
How they’ll adjust to being the youngest at school again (36%)
How they’ll manage getting to and from school (31%)
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