A message from the Deputy Principal
Back to school blues
The start of the school year can be a difficult transition for most, no matter the age of the child. Lack of structure over the long summer break, returning to the structured routines of school, along with new faces, new classes and even new schools requires a change in mindset. Erica McWilliams delivered professional development for staff at the beginning of the year and spoke about staff transitioning to regain their 'teacher fitness'. So, too must student once again become classroom fit.
Parents can ease the transition and spot when there is a more serious problem. The Mindshift Foundation suggests a number of strategies parents can adopt to support their child in the early days of a school year.
Listen to your child
Make the time to listen and tune into what your children are talking about. Parents are a safe place for children to help them develop the language around expressing emotions. Don’t dismiss their fears or hear only what you want to hear. You don't need to 'fix' things either. You can just be their sounding board.
Beyond listening in general, if there is on-going anxiety find out what, exactly, is the problem - friends, classes, a new teacher - and then help them problem-solve.
Let them be the experts
Ask them what might make them feel better. Let them generate solutions. Help them come up with strategies they can use in situations that make them worried.
Create a positive expectation. Talk about things your children can look forward to in school, past experiences they have enjoyed.
Talk through previous triumphs
Remind them of their own successes with similar situations. Reassuring them that they have the tools to get through the challenge ahead because they have overcome their fears in the past, can go a long way.
Reach out to the teacher
Teachers appreciate hearing from parents. They spend a lot of time trying to figure each student out so share what you know. Tell your children you have talked to the teacher, which can lower anxiety and send the message that the adults are on their side.
Start the routine early
Assemble backpacks, lunch boxes and other supplies. Show the child how to get their gear ready and keep it in the right place. Establish bedtimes and device-free times.
Give them strategies for joining other kids at lunch and making new friends.
Chill out after school
Give them a break after school, to have a snack and relax. A few minutes of quiet or of light conversation can be good for the whole family.
Signs that it is not normal
Be patient and allow time for adjustment but if your child is still struggling after a few weeks, seek help at school. In the Junior Years, contact her classroom teacher and in the Middle or Senior Years, contact her Tutor Teacher or Head of House. The partnership between teachers and parents is essential to support the girls in the best way possible.
Mrs Jo Matherson