Published on February 5, 2019
Going back to school is a transition for everyone, no matter the age of the child, or if they’ve been to school before.
There’s a few things parents can do to ease the transition and a few signs to look out for when there’s a more serious problem.
Listen to your child
Make the time to listen and tune into what your children are talking about. Parents are the safe place for children to help them develop the language around expressing emotions. Don’t dismiss their fears or hear only what you want to hear. You can just be their sounding board.
Beyond listening in general, if there is an on-going anxiety find out what, exactly, is the problem; friends, classes, a new teacher, and then help them problem-solve.
Let them be the experts
Ask them what might make them feel better. Let them generate solutions. Help them come up with strategies they can use in situations that make them worried.
Create a positive expectation. Talk about things your children can look forward to in school, past experiences they’ve enjoyed.
Talk through previous triumphs
Remind them of their own successes with similar situations. Reassuring them that they have the tools to get through the challenge ahead, because they’ve overcome their fears in the past, can go a long way.
Reach out to the teacher
Teachers appreciate hearing from parents. They spend a lot of time trying to figure each student out so share what you know. Tell your children you have talked to the teacher, which can lower anxiety and send the message that the adults are on their side.
Start the routine early
Hopefully these routines are already in place. If not, help children assemble backpacks, lunch boxes and other supplies, until the habit/routine has been established. Show the child how to get their gear ready and keep it in the right place. Establish clear bed times and device-free times. HVGS advocates that children are off their devices at least one hour before they want to be asleep.
Do a dry run
By now school has started, but if you sense any anxiety still, start over again and confirm the travel routines.
Give them strategies for joining other kids at lunch and making new friends. Chill out after school. Give them a break after school, to have a snack and relax. A few minutes of quiet or of light conversation can be good for the whole family.
Signs that it’s not normal
Be patient and allow time for adjustment but if you see your child struggling, seek help at the school, starting with the classroom teacher in our Junior School and with the mentor in the Senior School. If you are still making the transition as a parent, feel free to email me directly and I can see that your queries or concerns are addressed.
Acknowledgement: Principals’ Digests Newsletter, Volume 25, Number 5. www.principalsdigests.co.nz