Soothe back-to-school angst
The anticipation of heading back to school (or starting a new school) brings excitement and anxiety to both parents and children – doesn’t it all roll around too quickly? It seems that Christmas and New Year’s Day have only just passed and here we are confronted with the thought of first-day jitters, new routines, structured schedules and potential separation anxiety.
Children who have been previously happy to wave goodbye at the drop-off zone may become anxious about the first day back at school in a new year. Six weeks is a long time in their little lives and is a long time to have been away from school. In most cases they will be entering a new classroom with new classmates and a new teacher, and anxieties may shoot through the roof.
There are a few ways you can attempt to make the whole first day and week a smoother and less stressful experience. New teacher In the days leading up to school re-opening, school offices are generally open. If your child is very anxious about who their teacher is going to be, take a trip to the school in the week prior to the first day. Pop into the office and look for a photo of the teacher. Most schools have profiles and photos of the staff for young ones and parents to look at. Or visit the new teacher in his or her classroom. New classroom At any time over the summer break and leading up to the school year starting, take a visit to the school grounds. Ask your child to show you their new classroom and take a look through the window. Talk about how exciting it is to have a new class. New classmates If you know which children will be in the class then it is a good idea for you to make contact with some of these children in the next couple of weeks. Maybe have one or two of them over to play if possible and foster a relationship between the kids. On the first day If your child is showing signs of being nervous or if you yourself are anxious about the changes, it pays to take them to school for the first few days. Give yourself plenty of time to arrive, have a look around and meet some of the other children and parents. Meet the teacher and make a point of introducing yourself with your child. Spend some time in the classroom before you leave. Try to stay until he or she starts to look comfortable. It may be that a familiar or friendly face from last year walks in during this time. Goodbyes Goodbyes can be very difficult but every child is different. Your child may surprise you. A goodbye ritual can work wonders and be something that just you and your child share.
Tell them you love them and to have a great day. Positive and cheerful is the best way to go.