25 August 2021
The return to or start at a new school can be a particularly anxious time for children, not least when they may be experiencing difficulties in the home and going through the emotional turmoil that separating or divorcing parents may bring.
Going to school should be an enjoyable experience for all children, and the following tips may assist in ensuring that they do:
- Get your child motivated and excited. This may include going shopping with your child to choose stationery, or a new school bag, ahead of the new term. In Germany, the first day of school is celebrated with a “schultute”, a paper cone filled with sweets and presents. The early 19th-century tradition believes a child’s forthcoming educational years should be filled with “sweetness”.
- Get active: You may also consider planning a fun afterschool activity for you and your child to enjoy together, following their first day or week back at school. For example, going to the park or cinema.
- Find a regular routine. This may include a clear eating and sleeping routine or working out with your child on their journey to school (especially if they are travelling on public transport).
- Pack ahead. Ensure bags and uniforms are ready the night before to avoid unnecessary rush and stress.
- Fuel up. Provide delicious, healthy snacks, and/or lunch to keep your child’s energy up throughout the day. Provide them with a re-usable water bottle to encourage them to stay hydrated.
- Fast friends. Encourage them to engage with new classmates and to make them feel welcome. It is also important to remind your child to be themselves.
- New routines. Explain any new routines and rules to your child, especially if they are moving to a different school. For example, explain where they will be dropped off for school, and whether they will be having pack lunch or school lunches.
- Talk with your child about worries or fears. Be careful not to instil new fears in your child, so let them lead the conversation and listen to their concerns. Try to turn any negatives into positives. For example, explain that if your child is not in a class with any existing friends, that it is an opportunity to make new friends.
- Convey calm. Be there for your child. They will be reassured by you. Think about what you say (and what your child may overhear), your tone of voice, your body language, etc. If you are nervous yourself, it is best to act confident, and lead by example.
Hopefully, the above tips will help to reduce any anxiety your child may be experiencing before the start of school, encouraging feelings of reassurance and security.
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