A LITTLE planning ahead can go a long way to helping ease the stress and mayhem that can come from starting a new school year.
While it may be tempting to stay in holiday mode for as long as you can, child psychologist Michael Carr-Gregg recommends that parents try getting their children into the habit of
a school regimen before their first day back.
“Practise laying out their clothes and going to bed and waking up on time,” he said.
As well as lessening the chaos of getting children up and ready on time in the mornings, it can also help them feel more at ease about starting a new school year.
Dr Carr-Gregg said taking a proactive approach is particularly important for children who are in transitional stages of their education, such as starting high school.
“For kids moving into Year 7, go see the school, meet the teachers, familiarise yourself with the layout — in other words, participate in the school organisation as much as you can,” he said.
“Join clubs, play sports — just get involved in it.”
The best way for parents to help their children have a more positive attitude about heading back to school is to lead by example, Dr Carr-Gregg said.
“Parents just need to model the physical enthusiasm that you want in your kids,” he said.
“I think the key is to be really interested and energetic — take a real interest in their subjects and an interest in their homework.”
Friendship has a big impact on making young ones feel at ease in a new environment.
For children starting high school or a new school, Dr Carr-Gregg suggests parents try to reframe the daunting task of leaving the comfort of their old friends behind with a more positive approach.
“Tell them that this is an opportunity to make new friends,” he said.
Children in their early years of schooling can also greatly benefit from a bit of guidance in this area.
“You need to be their social secretary,” Dr Carr-Gregg said.
“Get to know the other parents and invite kids over for play dates.”
Dr Carr-Gregg said it was also important for parents to make an effort to look after their own wellbeing at stressful times like these.
“For the first drop off, drop and go, don’t hang around and then look after yourself — go to the gym, have coffee with some mates,” he said.
“Just remember that parenting is not an exercise in martyrdom.”
Practice driving the route to and from a new school before the first day of term.
Teach your child good socialising tips, such as the importance of listening and asking questions.
Try mindful exercises with your child from apps such as Smiling Mind to help ease their anxiety.
Leave a note in their lunch box as a surprise on their first day back.