Making back-to-school stress free for your child
Tahlia Mandie, Parenting Files blogger and counsellor, gives some insightful tips on how to emotionally prepare your child for the new school year.
Many children and teens feel trepidation at the thought of going back to school at the beginning of the year. For younger children starting prep or those changing schools, the nerves and fears can be exacerbated.
It’s normal for children and teens to feel some sort of apprehension – after all, certain things are going to change and there is an element of the unknown. This can be harder for some. As parents, our job is to try to make this transition as smooth as possible.
Although initially the summer break seems long, the end will quickly creep up. Don’t let the start of the school year catch you off guard! Start to look at your schedule early and make a list of what needs to be done before school starts. This can include:
- Reviewing current school supplies to see what needs to be replaced and what can be reused, including backpacks, lunchboxes and stationery items.
- Creating a schedule for when you are going to do the shopping for new shoes, clothes, groceries and supplies.
The school holidays are a time to relax and let routines go out the window, and the unstructured element is not only important for children, but most enjoyable too. However, re-establishing a routine, including sleep schedules and time, a few weeks before school starts will help ensure a smooth transition back into the swing of things.
Discuss, communicate and even type up a morning/afternoon/bedtime routine and post this in the kitchen for everyone to see and read. This can be reviewed again just before school starts to confirm that everyone understands what is expected.
Help them familiarise
Sometimes the most stressful part of a new school or school year is the element of the unknown, especially for younger children. Help them familiarise themselves with the new environment by having play times in the school grounds, taking a school tour or doing a practice drive to school. If possible, organising play dates with other classmates can similarly ease the stress for both children and teens.
For kids starting prep, wearing the school uniform a few times during the holidays can not only help with this familiarisation, but can be a fun novelty as well.
Establish a family calendar
As extracurricular activities begin in the new year, along with sporting events, training, swimming lessons, family events and other activities, it is important for everyone in the family to be aware of what happens from week to week.
For teenagers, it may also be important to schedule in their homework time, assignment time and free time to assist with their planning and organisation. Setting this calendar up early before the school year begins will allow the opportunity for everyone to contribute and help ease them into the school year.
Other ideas to assist with the school transition, depending on your child’s age, may include:
- Talking about goals and passions for the year.
- Establishing rules and responsibilities.
- Discussing and acknowledging any fears and anxieties they may be experiencing.
- Planning fun times for when school has started.
- Stocking the pantry for lunchboxes and after school snacks.
Remember, if you are calm and relaxed, they are more likely to follow your lead and head off to school feeling confident and excited.