Happy September, everyone. May the new school year kick off on a positive note. Wishing calmness, strength and zen-mode to all of us (both children and parents).
Adapting to school 🙇 🏢📗📘🗓✏️🖋📝🙇♀️ can take a month or even more. And not only for children but also for ourselves, their parents. Here are some ideas on how to help us all get into school rhythm as painlessly as possible – learned from my personal experience, the experience of other parents and recommendations within the framework of positive discipline.
⭐️ Preparation for school starts in the evening
In the morning, it will be easier if the child knows what he is wearing and what he needs to bring with him. If you know that there will be something unusual at school the next day (doctor, meeting, photographer), it is best to talk it through and discuss it before going to bed. The younger the child, the earlier the bedtime, especially in the first weeks: due to stress from beginning classes (comparable to the stress from the birth of a new sibling). The stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol are already produced in large quantities and, if you add to this lack of sleep, then everything can end in a nervous breakdown. If classes are online, then it is best for your child to have a specifically allocated place to study. For example, a desk in a room, on which there is a computer and where all required supplies are easily accessible. In the evening, you can set up the computer and prepare all the necessary materials so that in the morning you just have to switch the computer on and log in.
⭐️ May the mornings be good
A good mood in the morning is the key to a good day. This is easiest to do when Mom and Dad are in a good mood and there is no mad rush. You can set the alarm 15 minutes earlier and have an early morning chat and cuddle. Exercising is another great activity to do together.
It is not necessary to have a bootcamp style workout; even a few minutes of stretching can be enough. You can also add a minute of meditation and visualisation of a cool day ahead. The kids love it.
⭐️ Morning routine
Even if the school is online, get up at the same time as on the days when you have to go to school. The morning programme should be repetitive day after day. As an option: exercise, teeth, breakfast, a little game, dressing up, going out. Maybe dress in school clothes before turning on the computer).
Another good rule is no gadgets or TV in the morning (right before the start of the online process), so that nothing distracts attention.
⭐️ Not wanting to go to school is normal
Sooner or later you will hear the phrase: “I don’t want to go to school.” Any parent should be ready for it on any day. There are a lot of reasons for reluctance: from superficial (got up on the wrong foot and it’s cold) to deep internal processes related to school fights, quarrels or even bullying. Here are several options for interaction: 🧩 Accept and mirror the child’s feelings: “I understand you so well, I also don’t want to go to work (to the store, babysit your younger brother)”. This phrase is often enough. The child sees that he has been heard and understood; 🧩 Accept and give an example from your life: “I totally understand you. I also often did not like going to school as a kid. Especially in winter. Imagine, I had to wear tights, leggings and woollen socks. Everything itched, and it felt hot at home, but so cold outside ” 🧩 Try to find out if there is a deeper reason, and offer to convey this to the teacher: “You really do not want to get changed for PE today and because of this you do not want to go to school? Maybe we will write Ms. Smith a note asking her to help you with your buttons?” To minimise the number of such days (as a preventive measure), you can also try other methods, for example: 🧩 Play school with your child on weekends with the help of toys: “Oh, look at this dolly Anabelle, she cries every morning that she doesn’t want to go to school. How can we help her?” Often, in the course of such a game, the deeper reasons would come out and you can suddenly hear something like: “She does not want to go to school because Mark pushes her against the walls all the time” or “She just does not like to have lunch at school, but they make her eat that food and that makes her sad. ” Children often automatically transfer their associations and emotions to the play situation. 🧩 Chat about the day ahead with your child on the way to school: “Who, I wonder, will be the funniest today? Will the teacher wear a red sweater or a green one?” Here, again, you can switch on your fantasy and say that it seems to you that she will be wearing an orange hat with an ostrich feather. Together you laugh at this picture, and the level of tension will subside. With an online school, there may be a similar reluctance due to lack of socialisation, screen fatigue, inability to physically move. The main thing here is to give your child a break and a change of activity. Switch his or her attention. 👆By the way, at the age of 8-9-10 years old, three hours of screen time per day is the maximum. Up to 6-7 years old the maximum is two hours.
⭐️ Teacher authority
At school, the teacher takes the position of a “significant adult”, which means that the child needs to establish a connection with this person. The focus should automatically be shifted to the teacher and their authority. Usually within 2-3 weeks it becomes clear whether the connection has been established. If the teacher was able to correctly communicate her authority and is being respected by the kids , then he or she becomes a source of instructions and rules: “No, Mom, Mr. Jones said that it has to be a green folder, not a red one.”
If this does not happen and the child cannot adjust to school even after a long period of time, it is best to contact the teacher and discuss what you can do together (an experienced teacher in such a situation will contact the parents).
⭐️ Everyone needs friends
Kids go to school for many reasons and, of course, socialisation is one of the main ones. It is very important for the kids to have friends. At least one or two. The sooner such person(s) appear(s), the better and easier the child’s school life will be.
Often this just sort of happens itself and you start hearing the name of a certain student more and more: “Jake brought markers, Jake gave me a carrot. Jake and I ran.” If the schooling is online and you do not have a strict quarantine, then it is probably worth organising playdates and other out-of-school activities with peers a few times a week.
⭐️ Promise you will be back to pick them up
Usually, this is dealt with in pre-school or nursery, where you establish with your kids that you will definitely be there straight after lunch or sleep or walk. But if your child did not go to kindergarten and is only just experiencing this big new life for the first time, the separation is scary, and it is better to discuss everything in advance.
Even if a child is eager to go to school and outwardly remains calm, remember that inside he can be tense and anxious. After all, it’s not difficult to discuss school hours and the end of the school day: “Look, it’s 8:30 now, I promise – at exactly 3 pm I’ll be waiting for you at the entrance.” At first, you can even leave a little memory of yourself (a little squishy toy or photo or key chain to instil positive feelings and your presence when the child is in school). And it is best to be in school at exactly 3 pm as those 5 minutes of lonely waiting when the rest of the kids have already gone, can seem like an eternity in childhood.
⭐️ Let off steam after school
Sometimes, when they start school, some other things can happen – like nightmares, nail biting or sleeve sucking. Kids get all sorts of colds and viruses. They might have upset stomachs and all sorts of other emotional and somatic reactions. This is all normal and will pass quickly if caused solely by adaptation to starting school.
Therefore, I suggest we parents be patient, get some herbal teas (or a couple of bottles of wine) and try to get through the first weeks as calmly as possible. The beginning of the new school year is a difficult time, but it is wonderful nevertheless. Children are discovering a new world for themselves, and in many ways, the mindset of the parents determines their long-term relationship with the school.
If you would like to speak with a counsellor about how we can support you, please contact us.
by Anoush Davies
Find out more about Anoush here
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