Welcome to the new school year! Whether it’s going back to a familiar school or for those starting a new one, the process is sometimes stressful for both parents and children alike. Our resident specialists at Sidra – Childlife Manager, Toni Crowell and Occupational Therapist, Melissa Toon – have some useful tips and advice on making the transition an easy one.
• Before your child or children starts school, prepare them by making them feel excited about the new school year, making friends and different school subjects.
• If they are going back to their old school, remind them about the fact that they will see their old friends.
• If it’s a new school, tell them about the new classmates they will meet from all over the world.
• Even topics about what they will have for lunch or new games they can play during recess can motivate young children.
• If your child hasn’t already started, plan a visit to the school to familiarise them with their new surroundings.
• Children crave routine, familiarity, and predictability – use this as a chance to talk about the new routines that they will develop; possibly earlier bedtimes, homework, after school activities. This can be quite different than what they were used to over the summer as expectations on their behaviours shift. It’s good to start this a few days before going back so your child can ease into things as gently as possible.
• Praise them for doing their routine well to create a sense of success and accomplishment.
Dealing with separation anxiety
One issue that can cause a lot of concern is separation anxiety, especially if a child has to adjust to a new country, new house and a new school all at the same time. Some signs of separation anxiety are crying and pleading, tantrums, being clingy, being withdrawn, trouble sleeping and headaches / stomach aches. The best way to deal with this is to remain calm, gentle but firm, talk to your child’s teacher and school nurse. It’s important that your kids know you are there to listen to their feelings and concerns and that it is normal to have some of these feelings. Reassure them that they will do well and that they will see the rest of the family at the end of the day.
Whether it’s returning to the same school or a new school it always helps to talk to other parents who have been through the school process. We hope you found these tips useful and would like to wish you and your children every success at school in the forthcoming year.