After a long and beautiful summer, it is time to pull out the school rucksack, polish the shoes and get ready for the first term of this academic year. Whether your charge/s are starting school, starting at a new school or simply returning for the next school year, the first couple of weeks could be a rollercoaster of excitement and anxiety. Supporting children through this transition is crucial and your sensitivity can make a huge difference to their adjustment.
Preparing children for school is half the battle and doing this early can alleviate a lot of unnecessary stress. The list below highlights the key things that should be organised and ready to go..
☑ Uniform - both general and sports kit if necessary - labelled with name tags. Have you adhered to the uniform policy?
☑ Equipment - as children get older, they require more equipment. Check with the information provided by the school and make sure that your charge has the stationery that they need to tackle their lessons. Help them to pack their bag the night before to make sure they are organised.
☑ Food - if your charge takes packed lunches, include a variety of healthy food for lots of refuelling.
☑ Don’t be late! - if it is a new school, learn the route and how long it will take you to get there during rush hour. Children pick up on your emotions so if you are stressed about timings, it could have an impact on how they feel too.
Starting school in any situation can be nerve-wracking. Thoughts of, “Will I make friends?”, “What will my teacher be like?”, “Will I understand the classes?” or “How will I cope on my own?” can flood a child’s mind. Talk to your charge before school to find out what they are looking forward to and what they are nervous about. Speaking positively with them about this experience will help to reassure them of their concerns.
How to help..
☑ Friends - Encourage them to speak to different people at school and join in the games, clubs and activities that they like in order to meet children with similar interests. It is okay to take a little time to make friends.
☑ Teacher(s) - Highlight that teachers are there to look after them, make sure they are safe and help them to learn about new and exciting topics. Tell them about your favourite teacher – short anecdotes, particularly funny ones, can often calm a child down.
☑ Lessons - Encourage your charge to think about their own learning without comparing themselves with others. Every child has their own strengths and also areas that they find challenging – that is why they are at school!
☑ Coping alone - Help them to build a positive and trusting relationship with their teacher. Talk to the teacher when you collect your charge – if they see that you trust and like him/her, they will follow your lead.
School should be fun and interesting and with the right support, your charge/s will be coming home at the end of the day with endless tales of their classes and class mates!