Starting school is a huge milestone for any child, similar to taking first steps or getting a driver’s license. Although it should be an exciting time, the days before starting school can be extremely stressful for both parents and kids. Fortunately, there are things you can do to help your child smoothly transition into school.
Keep Your Kids Involved In The Process
Whether your child is starting school for the first time or starting school in a new place, the days ahead require lots of changes and adjustments. However, both will be easier to manage if your child feels as involved and informed as possible about what’s ahead. Do what you can to make your child feel that they’re not being expected to adapt to things without warning.
That might mean you explain to your child which classes they will be taking, escort your child to the bus stop several times before actually going to school so they will understand the route well before the big day, or even visit the school before classes start so your child will be familiar with the surroundings.
Let Your Child Know You’re There To Support
Children tend to feel much more settled when they have a familiar presence that serves as an anchor. You can easily be that positive influence for your youngster. When you’re shopping for school supplies, be enthusiastic about the things your child picks out, and offer input to assist with making those choices if requested.
Also, show genuine interest when discussing school and all of its associated aspects. Make it clear you’re willing and able to talk about topics that may be causing your child to become stressed. Your child may feel awkward about bringing those things up at first, but let them know that you’re open about discussing things if needed.
Although your child might believe you don’t remember what it’s like to start school, don’t allow that perspective. If your child seems resistant about opening up to you, it could be worthwhile to bring up a notable story from your own school days that somehow relates to whatever’s making your child feel anxious.
Help Your Child Have A Healthy Perspective
If your child is especially caught up in the fact that school’s something new to conquer, remind them how well they were able to cope with other changes in life. Almost all new things feel overwhelming at first, so it will be helpful if you can think of other new things your child has done that perhaps they were initially feeling fearful about, but handled okay in the end.
Also, if your child has a rough start at school, try to encourage them to not dwell on the negative aspects of the experience. It’s human nature to do that, but it isn’t often helpful. Instead, talk to your child about the good things associated with school. If they have trouble thinking of the good things, give assurance that although some things are tough at first, they frequently become more enjoyable with time.
Ensure Your Child Stays Active In Extracurricular Activities
When school’s either about to start or has just started, it can be tempting to make education the sole priority. Although it’s certainly important to learn, it’s usually not healthy or advisable to focus on school and nothing else outside of it. Generally, your child should be happier if there is a good balance between school and extracurricular activities.
Furthermore, the more active your child is in activities outside of school, the more likely it is they will find it easier to make friends in school. That’s partially true because they will arguably be more comfortable in social settings due to being around lots of peers.
However, it’s also likely your child will encounter familiar faces in the activities that happen outside of school. That means they may more easily make friends in school after recognizing classmates that are taking part in those same after-school activities.
Establish A Good Relationship With Your Child’s Teacher
When you have a strong relationship with your child’s teacher, it will indicate that you have a true desire to help your child succeed. Also, it should make the teacher especially willing to come to you right away after noticing problems that need to be dealt with about your child’s school experience. Your child’s school will probably have a special event close to the time when classes start that allows parents to meet the teachers. Do whatever’s necessary to attend such a gathering if it’s offered.
Also, make sure to give a good impression about meeting the teacher so your child will have a good perspective. For example, if you’re constantly complaining about having to go meet the teacher, your child will probably pick up on it and have a negative view about school.
Let Your Child Bring A Familiar Item To School
One of the top reasons why many kids have trouble adjusting to school is because they have to deal with many things that are new and different, and it feels overwhelming. You can ease that anxiety by suggesting your child bring something familiar to class, and preferably something easy to carry and conceal. A photograph, figurine or trinket are just a few ideas.
These kinds of items are particularly helpful if your child admits to missing you a lot when at school. Rather than getting consumed by worry and other negative thoughts, they can simply pull out the item and use it as a source of much-needed comfort.
Encourage Making Friends On The Bus
If your child takes the bus to school, that means they will consistently be around the same kids at least five days a week. In some instances, that could be seen as a downside, especially if your child isn’t interested in getting to know their bus mates. However, you have a great opportunity to encourage your child to get to know the fellow young people who are riding the bus.
You may realize your child has trouble striking up conversations with people they ride with. Suggest that they sit in a slightly different place every day to increase the chances of encountering a variety of people. Also, participate in role-playing to help your child feel more comfortable about talking to other children, and give them some possible questions to ask when there’s a lot of uncertainty about how to get a conversation started.
Keep things positive by reminding your child that it can sometimes be scary to talk to other kids for the first time, but doing so could be the first step that leads to a mutually fruitful friendship.
Hopefully, these tips will make you and your child feel much more at ease about starting classes. The more you stay involved in the overall process from the start, the more likely it will be that your child will come to you if issues arise.