School can be difficult for many kids. It’s not just about going into an unfamiliar setting (for first-timers) it’s also about finding who they are against the backdrop of stronger and more pushy personalities. School is not just about the challenges of learning new things and mastering new skills, it’s about getting used to a different routine and abiding by a different set of laws. School can be challenging for kids because they view it as a separation from the people who love them and support them unconditionally.
This is why it behoves the parent to prepare children for school. First time school goers need more preparation, naturally. However, even kids who’ve been to school before need some assurance after being away for so long. Here are some ways we can make sure our new school goers are getting the best from school and developing as they should be.
Allow them to express their fears and concerns
You won’t know what your kids are thinking about school unless you ask them. Children bear all sorts of unfounded fears and anxieties – ones you will never imagine even if you try to. This is why it’s important to ask them about what they’re thinking. If they’re worried or concerned about something and can’t express it, have them draw their feelings on a piece of paper. Use this paper as a spring board for a discussion. Allay their fears and talk about all aspects of what they’re imagining. Ask them what will happen if… Explain what can and can’t happen in a school scenario. Encourage them to ask you questions about your school days and tell them happy stories about your childhood and the days you spent in school.
Act out a school day
If you think your kids are anxious when they arrive home from school, a good way to find out why this is so is to act out the school day. If they’re anxious before even setting foot in school, act out an ‘imaginary’ day at school. Get the members of your family together. Have your child be the teacher. You be him or her and sit at a ‘desk’. Have someone else be a friend, and ask another person to be the big boy/girl in the class. This way you have a teacher, your kid, a child your son/daughter may see as a threat, and a classroom.
Your child (the teacher) has the power to guide the workings of the make-belief class. This will show you all you need to know and will definitely reveal to you, why your child is anxious. He/she has to tell everyone how to behave. Any shouting or telling off that occurs should give you an indication of what may be happening in his/her life at school. This will give you an opportunity to address and nip it in the bud.
Give your kids the best start to each day
Your kids need complete rest each night before a school day. This makes them restful, less anxious, less tired and less inclined to misbehave and get into trouble. A child that gets into trouble loses confidence in himself/herself.
Hug your child and tell him/her you love them in the morning when they leave for school. This boosts their confidence for the entire day and gives them some ammunition to face the day’s joys and hardships.
Give your child a healthy breakfast. Sugary foods and acidic drinks only make them agitated and less able to concentrate.
What other ways do you help your kids settle in school?
Anne Lyken-Garner, the writer of this post is the author of the inspiring book, ‘How to Raise Kids To Be Responsible Adults’ and writes about building confidence at her blog, ‘How To Build Confidence’.