One of the fascinating moments of our parenthood is to see our children go to school for the first time. As a mom of 4, seeing my children enthusiastically welcoming their friends and teachers during the first day of school is an absolute milestone.
However, transitioning to this inevitable moment of back-to-school scenario may bring emotional struggles to both parents and children. In fact, separation anxieties and clingy goodbyes are no stranger to this adjustment period. According to a certified psychologist at the National Association of School Psychologists, Dr. Mary Beth Klotz, every new beginning is a big deal for our children, regardless of the age.
Therefore, we must ensure that we and our children are emotionally, mentally, and physically ready for this adjustment period.
The adjustment period may be contentious, so how do we help our children adjust seamlessly? Read these 8 ways to help your child adjust to school.
1. Examine your child’s fears
There is no better way to pacify your child’s anxieties but to talk to them. Reassure them that they are going to be fine at school and will be learning a lot of new things from their teachers and classmates.
Consequently, few weeks before the school starts, introduce him/her to some activities that they might do at school. For example, they will have fun activities like introducing their names in front of the class or might have coloring or scribbling sessions, too. This way, you are helping your child conquer his/her fears and anxieties.
2. Be enthusiastic as well
It is a domino effect. If your child sees you are happy and excited for his first milestone, s/he’d probably feel the same way, too. Facilitate activities for both of you, like preparing his packed lunch or create a thing to remember list for your child to use, so s/he won’t forget anything on their first day of school. By doing such, the child would be more eager to go to school. In short, make a routine for both of you to show enthusiasm.
3. Schedule a play date
Another great way to succumb your child’s anxieties is to have a play date with another child from their school. A one on one play date or the more, the merrier! While some prefer to have one on one, my suggestion is to expose his social skills as early as possible. This option is useful to reassess your child’s social skills and camaraderie. Of course, this is a great way for parents to bond as well and get to know each other more. After all, we want to have fun, too!
4. Do not be late in picking them up
There are kids that can handle the adjustment gracefully and there are some that really struggle from it. Thus, make it a habit to be there earlier when picking them up. Because, not seeing you right away would make them feel more anxious.
5. Be firm in saying goodbye
I know this is easier said than done, but truth be told that most of the time it is us, parents, who cry the most! On the other hand, if your child gets clingy and cries, never ridicule them. Instead be supportive about how hard it is to say goodbye.
Make the transition easy for both of you. Consistently reassure their feelings that everything will be fine.
6. Be Alert
This is the best time to use your investigative skills. Do not settle for few weeks of happiness. Usually, the hardships happen when you least expect it. Sometimes, the kids are scared to say they are being bullied at school, but the manifestations show when they are cranky or feel apprehended. Be alert by asking them how the day went at school. And in return, you must listen attentively. If all else fails, trust your instincts!
7. Visit the school before the classes start
Ease both of your separation anxieties by visiting the school together. This will give you an opportunity to ease the transition of entering an unfamiliar territory. Affirm your children’s feelings by showing them you feel safe and secure.
8. Stay connected
At the end of the day, set aside few hours of bonding time with your children to strengthen the ties and ease those worries away. If your schedule at work is erratic, try to be flexible by adjusting your sleep time so you can accommodate few minutes with them. This approach makes them feel more secured. And when they feel secured, the adjustment period will be smooth, as well.
Helping your child adjust to school is stressful. Although, it is more stressful to us parents, let’s be a role model by showing primitive skills of being understanding and strong.
How about you? How did you cope with the adjustment stage?