School Start – Tips to make it easier for the whole family
The kids have had a wonderful summer doing all the activities you so carefully planned. Now it is time for them to go back to or start school for the first time, which can be a bit tough for some. School can be intimidating, especially for the shy ones in the family. Hopefully our tips will help you find your way and enable your child to (re-)enter the classroom with anticipation instead of worry.
1. Make school appealing
Parents and siblings can help by sharing fun and pleasant experiences and showing their own positive attitudes. Why not make it a family game: everyone tells their favorite thing about school or special story: great friends found at school, special crafts made, interesting things learned, funny anecdotes and more. This can help reduce the stress levels for children that feel nervous about the school start.
2. Prepare for the big day
By preparing ahead, parents can avoid that children are taken by surprise. The kids can anticipate what will happen on the first day of school which can reduce their nervousness.
- Get all the right school supplies beforehand. Most teachers/schools provide lists.
- Make sure your child gets plenty of sleep in spite of some anxiety.
- Talk excitedly about the new adventure ahead. Stories, stories, stories.
- Lay out clothing and a filled backpack the night before. Getting dressed should be fast and easy.
- New shoes should be tried on well beforehand.
- Remind your child of the teacher’s name.
- Let your little student know who will be picking them up.
- For little children: tell them what they need to do when they have to go to the bathroom. Some think they have to wait for a break or lunch. They sit and suffer in silence. Help them out with an explanation. Role play if you think it will help, so they go through the motions with you as practice. They will be less stressed as a result about this very vital issue.
3. Help them through the day
A good practice for parents with anxious or shy children is to create a special ritual at the drop-off. It can be the words you say, a kiss, or the giving of a toy or good luck charm. This can help make returning to or starting class special and fear-free. The good feeling can be re-enforced at lunch with a happy note in the bag or box.
4. Show interest in the child’s day at school
When your child comes home, be sure to ask questions and show interest in their day. Don’t bombard them, of course, but be patient and indulgent. Let your little one talk about the teacher, the lessons, recess, and other kids. Don’t panic if everything isn’t perfect the first few days. It is a time of adjustment for all. Show excitement unless the child had some personal difficulties. Let him or her blow off steam if necessary. Some negative behavior is entirely possible. Above all be supportive. Don’t we all wish our kids would bounce through the school gate with a big smile on their faces! Even for those children who don’t like school, things are bound to get better.
5. What to do about after school meltdowns
Some children keep it all together at school and release their emotions after school when back with their parents where they feel safe again. This can sometimes result in meltdowns and tantrums, especially in the first few days of school. Try to stay calm and encourage your child to talk about what bothers him or her. Listen carefully and try to find out how he or she felt at school. Some children might be sensitive to the high level of noise at school, intimidated by the teacher, feel lost because they haven’t made friends yet, etc. Whatever it is, show empathy and talk with your child about it. If there were some difficult situations with the teacher and/or other students, help your child finding ways to respond next time. Role play might be a helpful tool. You can also remind the little one of the toy or lucky charm you left in their pocket, backpack, or lunch bag. Tell them to touch it next time something troublesome is in the works. It might help them relax a bit.
For some children, being able to release their emotions and being comforted by their parents with hugs and love is all they need. Having an after-school snack together or playing a game can be calming and a way to reconnect. Even a short time can be therapeutic.
We all know that every child is different. What works for one, might have no effect on another child. Try to be prepared that the first school days might result in your child getting frustrated, disappointed or exhausted and that it is completely normal. With the parents’ help and over time most children learn to love school and how to make friends.
Hopefully, our post has provided you with some useful tips for making the school start easier. If you have some helpful tips for other parents whose kids are starting or returning to school, please leave your comments below.
Happy school start everyone!