Going back to school after a long summer break can bring all kinds of thoughts and feelings into the mind of our children. Looking forward to meeting their new teachers, catching up with friends, making new ones, as well as starting a whole new world of learning, can be a very exciting and sometimes anxious time. As a parent there are many things that you can do that will make this transitional time go a little bit more smoothly.
Below are a few suggestions on how you can play your part in setting the year off to a good start.
- Sleep for Success. Summer brings a change in the sleeping routines for many children. They stay in bed a little longer and go to bed a little later. It’s all part of the summer fun. With school round the corner it is important to begin the process of establishing a more school friendly routine. Setting up a regular bedtime and wake-up routine before school starts is a big step to starting the year off right and take out some of that lack of sleep stress that children can experience.
- Look back to look forward. Many children, in the quiet moments of the day can begin to feel a little worried about going back to school. Will my teacher like me? Will my friends still want to play with me? Will I be able to do all that is asked of me or will it be too hard? All of this is very normal and they will have been here before, only they can’t remember. To help your child, find a time to allow them to share their worries with you without inviting them to be worried. It is important not to suggest that something might be a challenge when there isn’t a perceived challenge to begin with. Explore with them how the things that worry them, worry others in just the same way and that they are not alone, or that this has never happened before. Recall how they might have been here last year and yet last year turned out to be so much fun. Discuss all the fun and exciting events, field trips, IPC IMYC projects, and so on from years past, to reassure them that this year is going to be no different than the year before. Fun! Fun! Fun!
- Walk through it. Some parents ask if escorting younger children to the classroom can help with the transition. Familiarize your child with key places such as the bathroom, gym, library, and cafeteria — he'll feel more confident if he knows where everything is.
- Socialize in a relaxed environment. Coming to the back to school summer social with your child is a great way to start the year without really starting school. The summer social is a wonderful opportunity for your child to meet up with friends, find new friends and say hi to their teacher before feeling that they are doing this all on their own without you. It is also a great time for you to meet other parents and make new friends also.
- Get prepared. Talking through all the things that they will need to get ready and laying out their school uniform is a kind of dry run for children. They get to talk through the things they have and what they need and can draw comfort from being prepared and ready for learning. There is also something exciting about sorting out new things ready for a new year.
- Talk about Expectations. All children want to please their parents and their teachers. Some might get worried that they will not be able to reach what they might feel are very ambitious expectations. It can really help if you talk about what you are hoping this coming year will bring. Discussing openly what you want them to achieve and inviting them to share what they hope they can achieve, is a big step to finding a sense of agreement. This year in school we are approaching success slightly differently. We are inviting you and your child to think about all the things you would like to work on so that we can build together a plan that will lead to personal success for each child.
- Read, read and read some more. Reading with your child is an invaluable way to spend quality time together on a daily basis. In addition to other long-term benefits, reading together can be a great way to build confidence, develop comprehension and model the joys of literature. No child is ever too old or too young to have Mum or Dad share a book with them.
- Play family games. Not only will everyone have fun and quality family time, you will also be instilling in them a number of very good life and learning lessons. From simply developing the patients to wait your turn to talking openly about the development of strategic and logical thinking, family games are a great home learning tool. Try to build a regular time into your weekly routines when it is game night and you won’t regret it.
- Get Engaged. Talk about the afterschool co-curricular opportunities that your child might like to get involved in. There are a number of exciting afterschool clubs running in the Fall that may interest them. Discuss what they would like to do and how it may fit into their schedule and then at the summer social sign up. School is a total experience, not just lessons in school time.
- Not Yet but Someday. We all have things we can’t do. Things we would love to do, but don’t think we can. Whenever your child says they can’t do something, finish their sentence for them with the word YET. Yet is very important, because it implies they will, just not now. Yet suggests all things are possible and with time they will happen. The biggest difference between children that achieve highly and others that are self-limiting is belief that they can and one day will. Yet moves children from a fixed mindset that says I will never be able to so there is no point in trying, to a growth mindset that says I will one day.