Is your child suffering from back-to-school nerves? Your child, like so many, maybe worried about changing teachers, making new friends or starting a new and more difficult grade level.
At SPARK, we know that back-to-school jitters are normal, even healthy, and we want to offer some tips to help calm your children and build their confidence as they step into the new school year.
Children should be encouraged to express their feelings, worries and concerns and should understand that while this is not always pleasant, it is normal. The American Academy of Paediatrics (AAP) advises parents to show care towards their children’s worries and not try to coerce them into being brave.
Simply make sure they know you understand their fear and that it is an expected and temporary part of life.
Dr Lisa Fiore, a professor of education states in her book that “a moderate amount of fear can be a motivator that helps kids learn new things and adjust to new situations.”
It’s important to talk to your child about what to expect.
Whether it is their first time attending a new school or they are moving on to a new grade, this will help them prepare both emotionally and mentally.
Start by establishing common ground by sharing your own experiences and finishing on a positive note. Say, “I know it is scary.
When I was a child, I felt that way too.”
If your child is not one to openly discuss their concerns or fears, try asking questions such as, “How are you feeling about going to school?” or, “I’m sure you are excited about the new year; it’s very exciting!” or, “I’m looking forward to hearing all about your first day tomorrow.”
These types of questions are bound to surface any concerning emotion your child may experience.
An exercise like driving or walking to the school, taking a look around and possibly interacting with staff as you would the morning of the first day of school will help eliminate restlessness about the unknown.
When your child is familiar with the location and layout of the school (where the classrooms, toilets, lunch area, playground are), they will feel more confident and excited. Consider making this a group exercise by including the children you know will be attending the school along with your child.
This will ignite new friendships between both the children and the parents and will definitely ease the nerves of the first day with familiar faces and surroundings.
Make positive associations with schooling and school subjects, especially subjects where a scholar may struggle.
What your children are exposed to is what they will believe and become.
If there are negative connotations associated with any subjects, they will eventually start to struggle in these areas.
Encourage a growth mindset in your child, reminding them that with hard work and persistence (one of our core values), every person can succeed in every subject.
Share some great examples of how to connect with friends.
These can include smiling when you make eye contact with someone, never letting someone eat alone, helping someone who you can see is struggling, complimenting someone or simply starting a conversation.
This will prove helpful when they find themselves in an awkward situation not knowing what to do.
Make the Preparation Process Enjoyable
Turn fear into fun with activities like uniform shopping, packing delicious (but healthy) lunches, and choosing extramural activities.
This is sure to squash the stress as well as create great family memories and a positive association to starting school.
Finally, make sure the kids get to bed early so they are well rested and ready for the big day. Set the alarm for a reasonable time so that the morning is not rushed, you’re going to need enough time for a quick pep talk and a not so quick hug before drop off.
Then take a deep breath, sit back with pride and watch your child be awesome! We know they are!
SPARK Schools is looking forward to welcoming back and meeting every new scholar on 16 January 2019.
We would also love to hear from you! If you have any questions please feel free to contact us or share your first day stories with us in the comments section below.