Tips for Your Child’s New School Term
Allow us to help put your mind at rest with some tried and tested techniques used by other parents to overcome this hurdle in their parental journey. Most of the following tips hold true even for children who have moved schools or are joining a new class in a different school altogether.
• Make It Exciting and Fun for Kids
Do make time to shop together for the things needed at school. For example, you may shop for a new school bag, a fancy lunch box, a funky water bottle and keep emphasising to the child it all is for his/her new journey into school. If you make it sound like a great new adventure, chances are the children will look forward to their new school term and will be excited to use all the newly bought items.
• Do Not Underestimate the Power of Sleep and a Good Meal
Don’t make the mistake of cutting down on your child’s sleep hours on first week of joining a preschool or a new school (even if the child might be older). It is important to prepare for a sleep schedule that will give the required hours of rest to your child on a continual basis. Also, make sure you feed your child a hearty meal well before the school time to avoid any hunger pangs and related crankiness.
• Be Prepared for Separation Anxiety
Psychologists indicate that some form of separation anxiety is normal for kids at an early age. The kids are getting separated from their primary caregivers for the very first time so it is natural for them to feel threatened and have the urge to cling on. You could help your kids feel comfortable by furnishing them with something familiar. For instance, you could place your bracelet around their necks, hand them a trinket you have kissed, you may place a picture of the family in their bags or write a colourful ‘I love you’ on a sticky note and put it inside their bag or their lunch box.
• Avoid the Morning Rush at All Costs
Try to be prepared well in advance to avoid morning rush.You may prepare the snack box and stick in the fridge the night before, you could have their school uniform ironed and ready, the backpacks loaded with correct material. You don’t want to stress yourself or your little one on such a critical day. It is also imperative we don’t forget to put in their bags what was asked for, some children feel embarrassed when the stuff is asked for and they don’t seem to have it.
• Be Friendly with the Teacher
It has been observed that kids feel more comfortable and at ease with adults who are friends with their parents or caregivers. If you talk in a positive and friendly tone with the child’s ‘would-be’ teacher, the child will feel comforted and won’t feel lonely and scared in a strange environment.
• Be There in School, if Permitted
If the school allows, during initial first two weeks, stay at school for a while longer to make the transition easier for your child.
• Vocalise the Routine to Your Child
Make it a habit to keep repeating to the child what is going to happen in preparation of school joining day. Try to give them updates often. For instance, you could say “now, mom and dad are going to pack your bag, and your lunch box so that you can have what you need at school, your teacher will help you with an activity at school, you will meet new friends, mom and dad will come at pick you up after sometime from your school.” Constant reminders about what is to be expected is better for children versus dealing with sudden surprises.
• Don’t Exhibit Stress in Front of Kids
Watch your body language when you say goodbye to your child. The kids can read our body language and are much more perceptive than we imagine. It is important to stand upright in a confident pose and couple it with a broad genuine smile to tell your toddler that mum/dad know that they are safe and are gonna be well taken care of.
• Help Them Foster Friendships
Try and make friends with some of your child’s classmates’ parents, so that you can organise regular playdates with them. Having friends and known faces in the classroom will make it easy for the child to get adjusted to the new environment. You can even think of sending your child to extra curricular activities, if your budget and schedule allows.
We know it sounds stressful but you need to know that this is just a phase that passes real quick. So while you are at it, enjoy the good times, pat yourselves on the back for a job well done raising your wonderful babies and keep moving. Soon, it will just be a beautiful memory for you to cherish.
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Mind Pro Psychological Medicine Centre