Starting the new school year brings about a whole set of emotions for our kids. The excited butterflies in the tummy about new classrooms, teachers, classmates and lessons!
But we, as parents, also need to be mindful that the return to school may bring about a sense of worry or anxiety for some children as they prepare to spread their wings from the safety of their home and caregivers.
The transition to school this year may be more emotionally difficult for your child or teen than in previous years because of the impacts of COVID-19.
With a little patience and support, there are several things we parents can do to make your child’s new school year a smooth and stress-free transition.
1. Start your new school year routine now
Research has shown that children thrive with routine. It provides stability and predictability which in turn reduces stress, worry and anxiety about potential “what ifs.” The school holidays are a time where parents unwind and relax their parenting rules, such as letting them stay up late for movie nights and sleeping in.
To get your child “back to school ready”, aim to implement the school routine in the week leading up to the return to school. Start by adjusting your child’s bedtime each night slightly until it returns to their usual school night bedtime.
Begin waking them each morning around the same time they would have to get up on a school day. This gradual transition will help adapt their body clock back to the school routine times and will mean they are less tired during their return to school.
2. Get organised
Spend a morning with your child or teen going through their booklist and course requirements. Ask them to try on their school shoes and uniform to make sure everything still fits. While you are doing this, make a list of anything that they need, and schedule a time to go and get their supplies.
This will remove any last minute stress about not having the right clothing, tools or equipment, and will make your child feel more calm and in control about their return to school.
3. Get them social
Going into a new class with a new set of classmates and teacher/s can be a stressful situation, especially for introverted or shy kids.
If your child is in primary school, organise a play date with another child who will be in their class. This will encourage them to establish a friendship and will make your child more socially confident when they see a familiar face in the classroom.
For high school teens, encourage them to contact some peers in their year level for a social catch up, such as going to the beach or seeing a movie. Connectedness with their peers will make them feel more confident walking through the school gates and helps build a sense of belonging.
4. Get yourself connected
Make sure you as a parent have got yourself connected to all of the school communication networks. Have you signed up to the school’s online communication platform such as Compass or Flexischools?
Does the school have all of your up-to-date information including email address and phone number so they can contact you when needed?
This will ensure you receive any important school updates, information and events and will help your family feel more connected to the school community.
5. Talk about it
Get your child excited about their return to school by talking about school in a positive way. Talk about the exciting things they have to look forward to about their return to school by discussing special events such as excursions, camps and concerts.
By communicating about school in a positive way, you will encourage their thinking patterns about returning to school to be positive.
6. Practice makes perfect
If you are like me and have a child that is starting school for the first time, have a
For primary schoolers – this can include dressing up in their new school uniform, packing their school bag and practice using their school lunch box. Not only does this make the event of starting school feel super exciting, but it will also give them a sense of familiarity with their school equipment.
For teens entering a new school year – get them to practice things such as using their locker combination lock, reading a class timetable, or take a ride together on their public transport route to school.
We wish you and your family our best wishes for a successful transition into the 2022 school year.
What to read next
- To the Little Ones (and Their Mums) Starting School, This is For You
- To the Parents with Children Starting School in 2021
- Kids Starting High School – What You Need To Know!
This article was written by Sarah James, owner of The Sensory Specialist – a Registered NDIS Provider based in Melbourne. Sarah is a qualified Psychology teacher and a single mother of two boys. Sarah has spent over a decade teaching high school students in several of Melbourne’s best government schools.
Through her experiences in Psychology, education and motherhood, Sarah has learnt lots of tips and tricks to help kids manage their school routines. For more parenting ideas, check out The Sensory Specialist on Facebook and Instagram.