Returning back to school

Thursday, 30 August 2018

Returning back to school

The weather begins to change, swimsuits give their places to jackets and closed shoes; the air brings smells of wet soil and the sound of dry leaves are heard under our footsteps; while the trees take all the shades of yellow, orange and red transforming the landscape around us into a unique place to live in.

At the same time, changes are taking place in our everyday lives. The vacations are over and everyone in the family go back to their everyday program. The parents return to their jobs, while the children try to find their school bags and water bottles. It is a transitional period and the necessary support and time must be provided to everyone in order to adjust into the new activities, requirements structure and pressures associated with the new program.

handsThe key to a smooth transition is communication and cooperation between the parent and the child as well as the parent and the school. Feel free to discuss with the teachers regarding your child's interests and abilities and do not hesitate to report difficulties that may be encountered in the present (eg allergies, phobias, sleeping difficulties). Share your personal anxieties and your feelings regarding the separation from your child and anything that seems to be difficult for you to handle, building a trusting relationship with your child ‘s teachers. All the teachers are willing and trained to listen to your concerns providing you with their expert opinion. Trusting the school, yourself transmits the same feelings to your child, making school a safe and secure environment for him as well.

Before school starts create or re-establish mealtime and bedtime routines with your child and replace screen time with reading books, colouring and playing as this will be helpful for your child to adjust more easily to the circle time and program into the school setting. Talk to your child regarding the school, the activities that will take place there and the people he will meet, but at the same time explain the things that you will do together in your mutual free time in order for the child to be able to prepare mentally for the new routines. It will be a nice idea to go shopping with your child to buy all the necessary school equipment (e.g. school bag, water bottle) making the first day to school a unique and very important moment. Choose a spot in the house where the child will keep his school stuff and he will be responsible for them, cultivating his sense of responsibility and his ability to gradually increase his autonomy.

Do not overreact if the first days or weeks are a little rough and more intense. Especially younger children who attend school for the first time might experience separation anxiety or shyness while getting used to the new environment. The teachers though are trained and full of compassion in order to make them join the team and feel comfortable and calm in the new environment. Even if the child cries when you drop him off to school or on the school bus, try to remain calm and simply reassure him that you love him and you will meet again in a few hours. Avoid negotiations and try to tell the truth about what you are about to do as long as the child is in school as the child will trust both you and the new context. If you have any concerns about how your child is adjusting to school, discuss it with the teachers when the child is not present or via email.
Encourage your child to talk and connect with his classmates and teachers. Reinforce his ability to cope and manage new or difficult situations on his own. Believing in your child's abilities, you will grow up a child with confidence and ability to share with you both his accomplishments and his difficulties.

Children can surprise us with their resilience. They are able to do wonders as long as we give them the space and encouragement they need!

I wish this school year to be full of creativity, playfulness and eagerness to explore!

Marilou Kountria
Psychologist – Play Therapist

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