This month we will get straight to the point... it's back to school time. Whether your child is starting Kindergarten or simply returning to school, this time of year can be challenging and tiring for all. So we hope our back to school tips and checklists will help for a smooth beginning to 2017!
Settling in to School and Separation Anxiety - For the Little Ones
Get to know the teacher: The faster you can establish a relationship with your child’s teacher, the more likely your child will settle in and feel confident in the classroom and the teacher will be more aware of any needs for your child and will work with you to support your concerns.
Take a photo of the classroom: Get permission first, and take photos for your child of where they will sit, keep their bag, where they will eat lunch and any other significant places in the classroom or school.
Initiate connections with others: Introduce yourself and your child to other parents and children as you all arrive across the first week of school. This little effort will break the ice for your child and could make a huge difference quiet quickly.
Design and visually present a consistent morning routine: Come up with a morning routine that suits your child’s and family’s needs. Then present this schedule using pictures, or photos so it’s easy for your child to follow and check each step in the morning, giving them more confidence and control in the morning that will likely get you out on time.
Go on a shopping trip for something special: Based on your budget, go on a little shopping trip with your child to choose something special for school, such as new pencils, a special rubber or note book. Something small that they feel is special and was purchased in a relaxed and fun way will leave them with excited feelings and memories when they take it to school. Less is more, little things count when presented in a loving, supportive and excited way.
Manage your own anxiety! Apart from making lists to be organised, meeting the teacher and familiarising yourself with the school and their usual activities, allow yourself time leading up to or during the first few weeks of school to catch up with friends who support you and understand what you are experiencing. Having a child begin Kindergarten is a big deal for every family, so allow yourself to also get support and time out once you have dropped them off to school. Perhaps invite along another new parent who may look worried or lonely when also having to drop off their child, it could be the beginning of a new friendship!
When they are very anxious
Speak to their teacher and alert them to the situation to ensure support.
Organise something they can take to school such as a photo or object to remind them of you.
Have a morning drop off routine that is consistent. Consistency equals emotional safety for all children.
Talk about the fun stuff, reminding them of what they have to look forward to in the day.
Discuss today’s events and tomorrows plans at the end of each day so they feel heard and organised.
Use a visual calendar or all school plans, changes and special events so they know what to expect.
Getting your family back to school
Often when children go back to school, parents also return to work. Therefore the entire family is adjusting to a new schedule. Here are some tips can help your family have a smooth transition for 2017!
Ease back into a schedule: start adjusting your holiday bedtime routines back 15 minutes earlier each day until you are back at appropriate time. Introduce simple morning routines but keep weekends routine free for the first few weeks to settling in, as well as homework free for the first week. Rather, spend time discussing what routines your family feel will be helpful with the new schedules and make a plan together. Routines make children feel comfortable and safe.
Get up early and turn off the TV: Allowing yourself some extra time in the first weeks will mean you and your child can enjoy getting ready together in a more relaxed environment, with no distraction from the television and full focus on each other, allowing for greater bonding and lower stress. Lower stress = greater success.
Plan one on one time with each other: no matter what- the activity, one to one attention between parents and children for 10 minutes each day will benefit the emotional wellbeing of both and create a supporting environment where your child feels heard even during the busiest days and weeks. Emotionally secure children create emotionally secure adults.
Healthy family eating: Be prepared with healthy snacks and meals for when everyone returns to work and school. Try and swap some desserts for frozen yogurt or baked fruit. Involving your children in investigating and trialling new healthy snacks will teach them how to look after their bodies and will benefit the whole family and increase your energy. Healthy children create healthy adults.
Identify your biggest supports: Each family member needs to be aware of who their biggest supports are. It may be your partner or a best friend, whoever it is you need to schedule time with this person for yourself and all family members with their chosen person across the school term for emotional time out and support.
Praise success: Most of all, praise success whenever goals are achieved with all family members. Be realistic- it takes 28 days to change a habit, don’t try and change everything at once!