Sometimes heading back to school can be really nerve wracking for kids, especially if they are moving from one school to the next, or even if they are moving classes with different teachers and different friends, so I thought it might be helpful to put together a little list of what you can do as parents to help children going back to school with any nerves or worries.
So what are the main worries with going back to school or the first day at school?
- What if my teacher is mean?
This is one that troubles a lot of children, especially those moving from the early years schooling to the main part of the junior school. What if the teacher isn’t very nice? Well, the easiest thing to do here is to take advantage of the schools orientation days, which most schools have, and if they don’t then you can always ask if your child can meet their new teacher at the end of the previous term so they see a familiar face when they return. Simple things like reminding your child that teachers are there to help you learn and to guide you, and if you follow the rules your teacher will be pleased. This is what I did with Reuben when he first started preschool, and though it took time, it did work.
- What if I don’t make friends?
I remember this feeling myself, don’t you? It’s like a terrible sinking ship in your stomach, and it sucks. The only way a parent can help with this is to remind your child that everyone will be feeling the same way, and that the best way to get meet others is by saying hello and possibly offering to share toys. You can always have a chat with the teacher as well if you have a really shy child and they will usually be able to offer some help matching them up with other kiddos. The other suggestion I have is finding out where the other children at your child’s preschool or play groups are going to school, that will set you up with some friendly names for your children to remember.
- Missing home
This is one that is really common with young children, especially those who haven’t been to nursery or preschool. I know when Reuben moved up to preschool we had the whole scenario of tears and ‘please don’t leave me’ cries over again. It comes as a surprise but I really believe that you have to understand that a change in environment is scary for us as adults, never mind for little children. Explaining that the school has your number if they need to call you, that you are only at work or home and will be back at the end of the day, the same as you always have been before.
- What if the other children pick on me?
This is probably a huge worry for you, as well as for your child. You hear so much about kids being bullied at school, and it is a scary prospect, and one that will be a weight on everyones shoulders. The best thing I find in these situations is to explain to your child that once they make friends they will feel much more confident, and confident is something that bullies tend to stay away from. Teachers are there to help too, they aren’t going to allow the children to be picked on by older kids when they first start and are a source of comfort if your child is scared.
What can you do to make the thought of going to school more exciting?
- Shopping for school supplies
It might not sound like fun, but shopping together for school supplies is known to help provide a sense of independence in your child, and that’s pretty fun right?! School is a scary thing, but if you have a cool pencil case and bag that you chose it somehow seems like an opportunity to enjoy. I know it sounds silly, and of course it is to us, but think back to those worries you had as a child, something that you chose is almost like a security blanket and shopping for things for yourself is always fun.
- Ask for a school handbook.
Another one that sounds silly, but to a preschooler, you reading to them is comforting and sitting down together to read a book all about their new school could well be the comfort they need to get excited.
- Be organised the day before
I have really forced myself into the habit of this for all things we do, from football to swimming, preschool to days out at Grandmas. Rushing cause stress, you know it and I know it, because let’s face it, we do nothing but rush. So if rushing causes stress in us, imagine what it will do to an already stressed out 4/5 year old. Be organised and prepared the day before and then on the morning you can just get a natural routine going.
- Talk about your own (positive) school expeirences
I remember loving learning at school, in fact I think that is one of the reasons I have done several diplomas and things in my free time since I left full time education. It’s fun to learn, and its even more fun to learn with others of your peer group. The other things you can talk about is how much fun you had at playtime – referring back to their own experiences at playgroups.
That is about it really from me, I have used a lot of my own experiences with preparing Reuben for new things, however i also think it’s only fair to credit sites like babycenter, parents.com and others that are wonder sources of information for parents at whatever stage of parenthood.