Wow it's the first week of September already which means back to school preparation is in final swing for many of us. To help with the anxiety this may cause for children and parents we have a few tips for you.
Going back to school can make many children feel anxious and nervous, especially so if it's a first day at school, nursery, primary or high school! Here are a few things that may help so that first day is less stressful for your child and also for parents!
- Check how your child is feeling: they may tell you they are feeling nervous or worried, we would advise against replying 'there is nothing to worry about' and would advise that you validate and normalise their feelings, so a reply that could help could be 'you won't be the only one, I bet all the children will be nervous on their first day – I know I was when I went to a new school'
They may say 'I am not sure where I have to go' a reply could be 'well I am sure when you arrive you will get a timetable or someone will tell you – if it's your first day all the new children may not know either' you could also get a map from most school websites that may help with entrances and dining halls etc.
- Talk about it: Talk about school, talk about the school day, the uniform and the teachers, keep it light, ask about their teachers, who they met on their transition days, what fun things will they do with their new friends and keep school a positive topic. Ask them to go over any fun things that happened on transition days.
- Keep talking about it!: when they come home – don't just ask the 'what did you have for lunch' questions? Or 'did you have a nice day' question, try to ask questions that provoke answers that you can gain information - questions such as: What was the best bit of your day? What was the most fun? Who did you talk to? Who did you eat lunch with? What lesson did you enjoy? What lesson was the worst?
- Be your child's anchor: be the person they can come to, the safe place, the place they can say what they want, good or bad, be there – listen, validate and give solutions or come up with solutions together.
- Champion them: tell them how proud you are, what they have done well and why, especially when your child is having a tough time, tell them your proud and how much your appreciate them telling you their worries and achievements!
For parents and carers:
Wow this is a tough time for you too!
Don't think we have forgotten how tough it is to keep calm when every nerve in your body is on edge! We feel you – we are you …
- Look after yourself: make sure you take some time out to look after yourself, you can't deal with issues if you're burnt out, so make time to sit, relax and have a brew! Whatever your relaxation method is – do it! Burnout won't help you or your child.
- Talk: when things get tough talk to family and friends, talk to those who will listen and give you a hug, look up other mums/dad's and carers who understand and make time for yourself to offload your worries.
- You're not alone: remember nearly every parent seeing their child off to a new school, new class, primary or high school will be feeling the same, make eye contact, meet new mums and dads, they will all be feeling the same
- Call: if you're worried call! Don't think twice – I didn't – I called up just after lunch to check on how my son was doing, it really helped me get through the rest of the day!
Going back to school is always difficult after the holiday's so I hope the above helps a little – everyone at Reach North West wishes all your children a happy back to school day – here's to new adventures!