Just like that, the summer is over. If you’re a parent suffering from ‘back to school shock syndrome’, then we have some tips you just can’t miss to get your kiddoes fully prepped.
Words: Joanna Nazareno-Santillan
Change is a big thing – be it as simple as not taking the usual route going to work for an adult or not having the usual length of playtime for a child. Change scares everyone – so imagine your child’s fear when they’re about to start a new school.
Whether it’s your child’s first day of grade school or middle school, or they’re moving to a new school in a new city, this experience can affect everything from their academic performance, social development and mental state. As parents, one of your roles is to help make this transition easier and comfortable for your child. How can you do it? Here are five steps to turning those frowns upside down.
Talk it out
Take time to sit down with them to discuss any questions or concerns they may have. You can ask them what they’re excited and worried about, or what they expects to experience and learn. Share your experience and feelings as well when you had to go through the same when you were younger, and what you did to get through your own difficult times. This not only helps shape their views of this experience into a more positive one, but it also makes them feel less alone, as you show you support in guiding them through this transition.
Do a trial run
Richard Drew, Principal of Jumeira Baccalaureate School (JBS), a Taaleem school here in Dubai, says that taking some time to visit the school days beforehand can help settle the nerves for new students.
“Spend a few hours in the school to visit the classrooms, library, cafeteria, bathrooms or changing rooms. Being familiar with the place and the routine beforehand makes them feel a little more ease and build more confidence in the new environment,” Drew suggests.
He also says that schools should play a key part during the transition. In the case of JBS, the school organises a buddy system during the first week, where a new student is buddied up with a returning student so they can be supported.
Stock up on supplies
On or before the first day of school, make sure you and your child find out what school supplies and materials are required.
There are school that provide lists beforehand; but if not, take the extra mile to ask teachers. Spend one weekend buying these supplies and materials with your child, and this can double up as a bonding activity or a chance to discuss their feelings and expectations for their new environment.
Choosing their own materials and supplies for school makes your child feel more in control and confident, despite the changes they will be experiencing.
Get a good night’s sleep
During a stressful time, anxiety can make sleep difficult. Sleep deprivation can adversely affect mood and performance. Constantly thinking of what could happen makes it harder for your child to sleep and makes them tired.
Make sure your child gets enough sleep through creating a school-year sleep routine. Get them to sleep early and for a good number of hours to aid them to think and feel better the next day. Developing a good sleeping habit as routine is important, especially in highly stressful moments of change.
Be involved and patient
Take an active role in your child’s school experience by joining in school activities with parental involvement and by getting to know their friends and teachers. This makes them feel that you are not only interested in their new experience, but also that you also want to see them progress and do well as the days go by.
Also, always remember that the transition phase will take a lot of getting used to before your child becomes comfortable with it. Give them enough time to adjust and always be ready with a listening ear and a supportive hand.
Joanna Nazareno-Santillan is a mother and founder of Afterschool.ae, the UAE-based web and app that helps parents to find the best after school activities, nurseries and schools for their children.
Need more back to school hacks? Find 54 great ones right here.