The long, lazy summer holidays are slowly drawing to a close and families all across the country are preparing to send their children back to school next week. The December holidays are by far the longest holidays in the academic calendar and this often causes the transition back to school to be more difficult than most parents realise, even for older children. This transition could be particularly difficult for children who are going to school for the first time or for those who have moved schools.
Children might have to adapt to a changing social circle – they might have to make new friends or might no longer be in the same class as their best friend – a new teacher and increased academic demands in their new grade.
Here are some of the ways in which you can help prepare your child for a new school year:
- Make sure your child is familiar with the school. If you child is going to a new school for the first time try to attend the orientation day or to introduce her to her new teacher beforehand. It’s even worth just driving past the school a few times if it is still closed just so that she can get an idea of where she will be when you leave. Help your child feel more comfortable by pointing out the bathrooms and also the car park where you will be waiting to collect her after school. If your child is staying in the same school be sure to talk to him about the changes he is bound to find, such as a new teacher or having to play on a new playground.
- Talk to your child about her new teacher during the holidays – this will facilitate the bonding process. Keep in mind that your child will most likely take a while to settle into her new class – but if she is still very unsettled after the first week alert her teacher to it this and ask the teacher to make a special effort with your child.
- Prepare your child for the separation from you and let her know what to expect. You can say things like “I’ll pick you up at two” or “Mommy will fetch you just after nap time”. Small children may need to make use of a transition object such as familiar toy or blanket to give them comfort throughout the day. Whatever you do though, DO NOT prolong the separation process or show her that you are upset at leaving her as this will make her worry even more. Here are some more tips on how to handle separation anxiety at school.
- Get your child back into an early bed routine before school starts.
- Make sure that you have everything you need for the first day of school. Check beforehand that the school uniform is complete and fits comfortably, make sure your child has all her supplies neatly packed, pack lunch the night before and make sure that everything is set up for your morning routing. Being well prepared will prevent last minute rushing which just tends to increase any pre-existing jitters.
- Make sure that you are a few minutes early in picking her up from school on the first day so that she does not have to wait for you.