Updated: Mar 30, 2021
School's back and so are those big 'back to school' feelings.
Some children will be feeling super excited about the idea of going back to school. There's lots to like - friends, fun, routine, a change of scenery, a break from their siblings.
Many children, however, will be feeling nervous about this transition, some will be extremely anxious!
There's also a very good chance YOU will be feeling nervous or anxious too, especially if this is a new school for your child, or their very first day of school.
Here are 4 tips to help gently ease yourselves into the new school routine.
1. Give yourselves extra time
Everything is going to take longer in the beginning, especially on the first day. Deal with all of the logistical things early. Pack the bags and the lunches the night before, lay the uniform out (if they have one) this will free you up for the emotional side of things in the morning.
In the mornings, take plenty of time to eat breakfast, talk calmly about things and aim to get to school early. You do not want to feel rushed or frantic - be kind to yourselves and ensure there is extra time to support those big emotions.
2. Think of a calming ritual to do together
It's likely you will both be feeling nervous/excited/anxious. Can you weave a calming ritual into your morning? It could be as simple as doing a quick breathing activity (google for ideas, my favourite is starfish breathing), or maybe you could do some quiet playing together before you leave with some piano music playing in the background.
For extra 'calm' add some calming fragrances such as lavender to the environment.
For more active kids, try doing an activity together out in nature - play a game of tag together at the park on the way to school for example. You know your child best so Parent Like You and pick something that you think would be calming, that you could do TOGETHER, as a lovely ritual until they find their confidence.
3. Focus on one step at a time
If you have a child who is very reluctant about even getting out of bed, let alone getting in the car and actually going to school, break the morning down into little steps and just focus on one at a time. Celebrate the achievement of completing these little steps without too much forward thought about the last few steps of the morning (going into the classroom and saying goodbye).
4. Create 'handles for attachment'
Finally, when you get to school, create a drop-off routine that is the same every time. By doing this you create a 'handle for attachment'. This is fancy teacher speak for 'give them something to hold onto since they can't hold onto you'.
Involve your children in the creation of this routine (and the teacher too if you think you'll need extra support).
It could be something like: go into school, put the bag away, one slide down the slide, quick breathing activity together, then ONE hug and wave goodbye.
The key is to make it quite quick - five steps is more than enough. Then try to stick to this routine every single morning, where possible, (so don't give into 20 extra hugs even if they are requested, this just drags out the whole experience and heightens emotion).
After a while you won't need this 'handle for attachment' but in the beginning, it will provide an enormous amount of comfort for your nervous/anxious child and it will provide you something practical to do in order to help.
NEED MORE SUPPORT?
If you think your child (or you) requires more personalised support to overcome their 'back to school' challenges then please get in touch, I have a plethora of knowledge in this area and would love to support you further. For more information visit: www.parentlikeyou.com.au/overcomechallenges
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Kirsty Foster is dual-qualified teacher with a very diverse range of teaching experience. She is a primary school teacher, an early childhood teacher, a Montessori teacher AND a passionate RIE/Pikler educator.
Kirsty is the author of the book Values Guided Parenting, founder and family coach at www.parentlikeyou.com.au and mum to 3 very active boys (a 4 year old, a tween and a teen). Kirsty would love to empower you to overcome your parenting challenges. Get in touch today!